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Like many of you, I spend Monday through Friday at the office. We use our lunch hours to email teachers and coaches, call dentist and doctor offices, scratch out lists and to-dos in our planners, and sprint up the post office stairs just in time to run back to work with disheveled hair, looking like we were out for a dash of afternoon delight.

grilled turkey cheddar bacon sandwich

You and I share a common bond. We want tasty and effortless weekday meals—simple to plan, easy to shop for, and speedy to toss together. Sandwiches are becoming exceedingly ingenious but we don’t always have time to invent something outlandish.

I like to recreate my favorite restaurant meals at home. That way, I have control over the quality of ingredients. There used to be a restaurant in Pipestone, Minn. called the Villager. A simple turkey melt was my favorite.

Whether you have a short half hour at home for lunch or are jetting off to the ice rink after supper, you have time to grill yourself and your family a crisp, melty sandwich. Since you need precooked bacon, fry up an extra pound of bacon on weekends and store it in the freezer. You’ll love how many times it comes in handy.

Grilled Turkey Cheddar ‘n’ Bacon

1 tablespoon butter

2 slices bread

2 slices cheddar cheese

deli turkey, approximately 1/4 pound

2 or 3 slices cooked bacon

onion salt

pepper

dashes of pepper sauce to taste (my favorite is Cholula Hot Sauce)

  1. Melt half a tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat.
  2. Place one slice of bread in the melted butter.
  3. Top with one slice of cheddar.
  4. Lay out deli meat on the cheese.
  5. Dash with onion salt,  pepper, and pepper sauce.
  6. Arrange bacon on meat.
  7. Top with cheese.
  8. Cover with second slice of bread.
  9. When the bottom bread is golden brown, lift up the sandwich with a spatula and toss the other half tablespoon of butter in the saucepan. Let it melt and then put the sandwich back down, flipping it on the ungrilled side.
  10. When both sides are golden brown, remove from pan and eat.

I also like to dip my sandwich in Arby’s sauce. (pictured above)

Sweet & simple wishes,
Staci

It’s not just that a giant skillet cookie takes less prep time than baking a few dozen cookies, there’s something cozier than a childhood teddy bear about scraping your fork across the bottom of a cast iron skillet, digging out a messy, melty triangle of chocolate chip cookie.

skillet chocolate chip cookie

Get my new favorite Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe from Lori Lange at RecipeGirl.com. (In addition to the chocolate chips, if I have one on hand, I chop up a Hershey’s candy bar and toss it in.)

Lori’s cookbook, “The Recipe Girl Cookbook: Dishing Out the Best Recipes for Entertaining and Everyday” is always near the top of my pile. It’s because of her recipes for cinnamon roll pancakes, tomato-basil soup with garlic-cheese croutons, slow cooker french dip sandwiches with peppers and caramelized onions, blueberry-pineapple tequila punch, bacon-wrapped tater tots, triple berry salad with sugared almonds, roasted cauliflower with lemon-brown butter, pan-fried lemon-garlic rib eye steaks, and butterfinger brownies that you will love her book too.

I better go tell the rest of the family the cookie is ready to eat.

Sweet skillet wishes,
Staci

You are enough. Have you ever really thought about what you mean to people – what you really mean to people? Not how they like your shirt or boots (not boobs either), or if they think you are thin enough or are having a bad hair day? Not what car you are driving or if it has a mound of gravel dust on it?

You may not know who, but you ARE an inspiration to someone. I bet you’ve uplifted or made someone smile today. Isn’t that enough?

Sweet wishes,
Staci

Not everyone cooks for a family of four. Or five. When it’s just you on a cozy Saturday morning and you crave the nostalgic waft of cinnamon drifting from the kitchen, a small batch of monkey bread with warm caramel seeping down the sides will appease.

Monkey bread when flying solo

One tube of biscuit dough and a few sweet ingredients and you can’t even take a shower in the time it takes to bake them.

monkey bread cinnamon sugar

Bake in mini pie tins, 4″ springform pans, mini loaf pans, one loaf pan, cookie sheet, mini muffin tin, or any other small oven-proof pan.

mini monkey bread before baking

I used mini pie tins – three of them – and I’m glad I baked them on a cookie sheet because the caramel oozed over the top. Next time I’ll still only make three, but I’ll drizzle some of the caramel in between layers instead of dumping it all on top. You might like it better in four.

half gone monkey bread

I confess, two of us ate this batch. Now go take your shower.

Sweet Saturday wishes,
Staci

Flying Solo Monkey Bread 

Serves 1 or 2 people depending on how much you want to share

5 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 (7.5 ounce) package refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough

  1. Grease 3 mini pie tins or whatever smaller pan you choose to use.
  2. Melt butter and brown sugar together. Stir until brown sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Set aside.
  3. Stir together white sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Cut each piece of biscuit dough into four chunks and drop into the cinnamon and sugar. Lightly toss around until each is completely coated.
  5. Toss dough into pans, using equal amounts in each pan if using more than one. Pour some of the melted butter mixture over the biscuits before all of it is in the pan.
  6. Once all the biscuits are in the pan(s), drizzle the remaining caramel over the biscuits. Place pan(s) on cookie sheet.
  7. Bake at 350° until top of biscuits are slightly crispy. For mini pie tins, that’s approximately 12-14 minutes. Do not over bake. For one loaf pan, it may take approximately 20-22 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and turn pan(s) upside down onto plate, remove pan, scrape the excess caramel onto the monkey bread.

Maybe I should carry a flashy No Raisins picket sign when I go to the farmers market. Who thinks to ask, “What’s in your monster cookie?” It’s not a trick question. (farmers market monster cookie below)

farmers market cookie

Wouldn’t you expect peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chips, and most definitely M&Ms? That’s how I make my monster cookies. (pictured below)

Monster cookies

I mean, who puts raisins in monster cookies? And were they hiding them from me? Remember, raisins ruin everything. History has already taught me to beware of bran muffins and those fancy, swirly loaves of cinnamon bread.

bran muffins | Random Sweetness Baking

Maybe the bigger question is, why didn’t I notice that the tower of cookies in the jar labeled “monster cookies” weren’t flecked with M&Ms? That should’ve tipped me off that something sneaky was going on.

Keep your eyes open out there cookie lovers.

Sweet summer wishes,
Staci

Some recipes are perfect just the way they are. And then doubled.

malted milk ball cookies

Malted Madness Cookies from Betty Crocker. 

Have a sweet day!
Staci

I lured you in with patriotic jars of jiggly sugar. There aren’t really one thousand seven hundred seventy-six of them. As we are celebrating in the United States, 238 years ago today 56 men penned their signature on a document composed of the most eloquent and liberating words in our history – the Declaration of Independence.

patriotic JELLO jars

I haven’t read the Declaration of Independence in its entirety in years. Probably since middle school. I read it, twice, today. Maybe if you have a few minutes, you will want to read it too.

Happy Independence Day to my United States friends! May God, our Creator, continue to bless and guide our nation.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Georgia:
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
Massachusetts:
John Hancock
Maryland:
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia:
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Delaware:
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Massachusetts:
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Connecticut:
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

View Declaration of Independence on http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration.html.

Make the JELLO jars using Jars of Rainbows instructions, using 12 (4-ounce) jars. Use two small packages of blue JELL-O® and one small package of red JELL-O®.

Jars of RainbowsMaybe cream cheese cookies are more your thing.

cream cheese sugar cookies

 

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