Cheesy Potatoes

1 32oz. bag of shredded hash browns (frozen)
1 can of cream of mushroom soup (reduced fat)
1 16oz. container of light sour cream
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (made with 2% milk)
1 stick of butter, melted
2 cups of crumbled Ritz crackers (about one sealed package)

Heat oven to 425.
In a large bowl, mix the frozen hash browns, soup, sour cream, and cheese.  In a small bowl, melt the butter and then add to the potato mixture.  Stir to mix everything together.  Place in a 13x9 ungreased baking dish.  Bake for 40 minutes.
Take potatoes out of oven and pour the crumbled crackers on top.  Bake another 10 minutes. Enjoy!

This dish can be made ahead of time, just bake for 50 minutes at 425 without the crackers.  Let cool and refrigerate.  Then before serving, pour the crackers on top and heat at 350 for about 20 minutes or until it's hot and cheese is bubbly.

Sausage Won Tons

Thanks to my friend, Jodi, for introducing me to these delicious appetizers!

Here's my recipe for them:

Won Ton Wrappers (found in grocery aisle with the tofu, near vegetables)
Jimmy Dean Maple Sausage (1lb.)
1/2 cup Ranch Dressing
1 cup Mexican Blend Shredded Cheese

Heat oven to 425.  Place won ton wrappers in mini muffin pan and bake for 6 minutes.
While the won tons cook, brown the sausage in a pan over medium heat.  Drain.
Add the ranch dressing to the sausage and stir until sausage is coated.  Add the cheese and stir again.
Take won tons out of the oven, and lower the heat to 350. Place a small spoonful of meat into each won ton and bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Enjoy!

These won tons can be made ahead of time.  Bake the won tons as directed above and let cool.  Place in Zip Loc bag to keep them fresh, and just leave on the counter.  Prepare the meat mixture, as described above, and put in the refrigerator in a sealed container.  Then before guests arrive, place the won tons back in the mini muffin pan, add the meat, and cook at 350 until warm.


Healthy Alfredo and Basil Parmesan

Yes, this alfredo sauce really is healthy! No heavy cream or butter here!

8 ounces uncooked linguine
1 cup reduced fat milk
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shaved fresh parmigiano-reggiano cheese (yes, fresh..none of the tub cheese allowed)
1 1/2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese

Cook the pasta according to the package. Drain and set aside.
While pasta cooks, put the milk, salt and pepper, and 2 teaspoons basil in a bowl and mix. Set aside.
Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add the oil to the pan.  Swirl the oil to coat and add the flour.  Cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously.  Add milk mixture and cook for 3 minutes or until thickened.  Add more heat if it is not thickening. Stir often.  Add the parmesan-reggiano and mascarpone cheese.  Continue to stir until cheese is melted through. 
Serve on top of the pasta.  Sprinkle with the remaining basil and add some fresh shavings of parmesan on top.

Serves 4 (serving size- 1 cup pasta)


Fluffy Pancakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
3 tablespoons of melted butter

Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar). Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the milk, vanilla, egg, and melted butter.  Whisk until smooth.
Heat a frying pan over medium-medium high heat.  Pour some batter into the pan (about 1/4 cup for each pancake).  When bubbles start to appear, flip the pancake over.  Brown on both sides.
Serve hot with syrup.


ms.jess.photography is now on Etsy

Some of my photography pieces are now available on Etsy.  $10 each for a digital download, which means that there is no shipping charge! The pictures will be emailed directly to you, for you to use as you wish!


A Cheap Way to Replace Pant Hangers

I am not a fan of pant hangers.  They are bulky and never sit flush against each other. 

Here's a solution!

All you need is a normal hanger and two clothespins.

Then place the hanger inside your skirt (works with pants and shorts also) and clip the clothespins on either side.

And now your skirts can hang nicely side by side!


Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

If you are a chocolate and peanut butter fan, these cookies are for you!
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
40 miniature peanut butter cups
Preheat oven to 375. Mix peanut butter, butter, and both types of sugar together. Add egg, vanilla, flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix. Roll into small balls that fill a mini muffin pan about 2/3 full. Place the balls into the greased pan.
Bake for 8 minutes, or until golden brown. While they bake, unwrap the peanut butter cups. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, place a peanut butter cup into the middle of each cookie.
Makes about 40 cookies.


Scrapbook Paper and Paper clip bird

A big thank you to Charcoal and Crayons Blog for their great tutorial for making these adorable little birds! I saw you guys on Pinterest and loved the birds!
Here's my bird I made! Love him!

Felt flower pin

Make the felt flowers as shown in the previous post.
Attach to a safety pin for an easy way to change up a normal t-shirt! Or add to a plain purse for a little more pizazz!

Felt flowers

Start with a piece of felt, about an inch and a half width. Length is up to you. The longer, the bigger the flower.
Next, fold the yarn in half- hot dog style. Seal the edge with hot glue.
Then, using scissors, make small cuts into the felt on the folded side (not the side with hot glue).
Then start at one end and begin to roll. At the end of the roll, put a small amount of hot glue to keep the flower closed.
Then you are done!

Yarn wrapped wreath with felt flowers


Yarn Jewelry Holder

Here's a fun, easy, and cheap way to display and store your earrings and pins!
First start with 6 even pieces of yarn. Tie a knot on one end.
Secure the knotted end under something heavy and, taking two strands of yarn at a time, begin to braid the yarn. Tie a knot when finished.
You're done! Just add whatever buttons or decorative items you wish and hang on the wall!