The Cookbook Challenge

The Cookbook Challenge

In the age of Pinterest, I realize more and more that I don’t open up my cookbooks as often as I would like.

It’s just so easy to scroll through Pinterest or save a recipe from a blog (and that’s great!) but I have a TON of awesome cookbooks at home- some of which I’ve never cooked out of! So here’s my newest blog venture: cooking once a week out of a cookbook. It doesn’t mean it will be fancy or amazing, but it will be fun to try new things.

I have a pretty well stocked pantry and freezer, so cooking out of cookbooks shouldn’t be too difficult or expensive because I will have many of the staples already.


Some of the cookbooks I have at home that I’ll be cooking out of include:

Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill

Pioneer Woman Cooks

Slow Cooker Double Dinners for Two

Southern Living Christmas Cookbook

Miss Kay’s Duck Commander Kitchen

100 Days of Real Food

and many many more.


I hope you’ll follow along as I cook through some of these recipes in the coming weeks!


Easy Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

Easy Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

I had seen recipes all over Pinterest for chicken bacon ranch pasta, but they all included making your own ranch sauce or using salad dressing.

Well, I don’t have time to make my own sauce.  And using oily salad dressing for sauce didn’t sound great.  I wanted something with more depth that was still easy to prepare.

So I created my own concoction. It’s still an easy-to-make recipe (especially if you take the shortcuts I mention!), and it’s SO good.  I made it for a friend who had surgery, and they loved it. We love it too.

You can eat it right off the stove, or cook it in the oven for more of a casserole presentation.

Easy Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

  • 16 ounces chopped, cooked chicken breasts (you can use the grilled chicken in the deli section in bags…2 small bags or 1 large bag)
  • 6 slices of bacon (or one bag of real bacon pieces)
  • 1 box pasta (you can use spirals, penne, bowties…anything that has nooks and crannies for the sauce.  You can use gluten free, too)
  • 2 packets ranch seasoning or 4 tablespoons (if you have the bulk shaker)
  • 1 jar Alfredo sauce (I use light Alfredo)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • Optional: diced onion and mushroom (1 cup of each)

Serves 6-8

Start by cooking the bacon (if you’re using raw bacon).  Meanwhile, boil the water and cook your pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the chicken (and onions and mushrooms if you’re using them) in either the bacon fat or a bit of oil or butter.  Cook the chicken and veggies with 2 tbsp ranch seasoning (or 1 ranch packet) until heated through and veggies (if you’re using them) are soft.

Drain the pasta, and mix it with the chicken, bacon pieces (or chop your bacon slices), Alfredo sauce, diced tomatoes, the remaining 2 tbsp ranch (or the other ranch packet).  If you want to serve the pasta right away, mix all the cheese into it and serve.

Or if you want more of a casserole, mix in 1 cup of the cheese into the pasta then spread it in a greased casserole dish and top with the remaining 2 cups cheese and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Chicken bacon ranch pasta

This gets gobbled up in my house!


Tips for the Perfect Grilled Cheese

Tips for the Perfect Grilled Cheese

On my way home from Arkansas Women Bloggers University a few weeks ago, I stopped at a favorite spot- Burl’s Smokehouse.  They do house-smoked meats, but my favorite thing there is the sourdough bread.  When we lived in Hot Springs, mom and dad would often go on Sunday drives out to Burl’s, and they always brought home a load of bread.  The bread comes in solid loaves, and they’ll slice it for you when you buy it. Mom always bought the white sourdough, but to be a bit healthier, I bought the wheat sourdough.

When I got home with my wheat sourdough bread, I realllllly wanted a grilled cheese.  Tyler and I think I happen to make a killer grilled cheese, so I thought I’d document my tips for you.

First, start with butter in the pan over medium heat. Let the butter brown a bit.

Spread mayonnaise on your bread.  Yes. I said mayo. Trust me.  It just makes the bread crunchy, yet soft and delicious. A light layer on the bread and you won’t taste mayo.

Put the bread mayo side down into the butter.


Use a microplane grater for the cheese to get it smooth.  The microplane makes small shreds, so it gets creamy.  Bonus!  Microplane graters are made in Arkansas! I use a medium-hard cheese.  I LOVE the unexpected cheddar from Trader Joe’s – it’s a white cheddar/Parmesan mix. I also love to use a cranberry white cheddar, which is what I used on this day.  There is also bacon under there, because, bacon.



Toast the bread until lightly browned and flip it.  Cook it until it’s golden!

Between the good quality bread, browned butter, mayo on the outside of the bread, and microplane grated cheese…it’s the perfect grilled cheese!

So many exciting things!

So many exciting things!

I’m gonna take today and update you on life.  Not too much has been going on outside of the normal (work, church, life)…but there have been a few highlights.

Hanson is touring starting this week…and the tour is super cool.  It’s two nights in each city with one night being cover songs and the other night being their music.  They released an EP of the cover songs – and I was SO excited to get it.

Full disclosure: We are REALLLLLLLY hoping they play Dirty.  Yes, Christina Aguilera’s dirty.  There’s a clip on Youtube of them singing it at a concert. {so hot}


Monday night, I was craving breakfast for dinner.  So I made waffles.  And I dipped them in butter and cinnamon sugar. Hello, churro waffles.  Such a great idea.

I’m loving curling my hair at the moment.  My hair girl told me to try and not wash my hair daily since it’s so fine and thin….but on the in-between days, it’s lifeless.  So I’ve been curling it. Love the big hair! (I know it’s not super big…but it’s big for me!)


So that’s this week’s life.  Music, food, and hair.  Good enough.


How’s your life?  What are your random highlights?