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Author Archive | Jessica Bruno

Jessica Bruno

We are a crew of four generations all living together under one roof. We share our
Do-It-Yourself renovations, project tutorials, room makevers and bits of what life is like living together under one roof. Could you live with multiple generations?

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Here are my most recent posts

Bacon Cheeseburger Shepherd’s Pie

Have you ever heard of bacon cheeseburger shepherd’s pie? I had not until I came across this insanely delicious recipe in my mom’s Betty Crocker cook book. At first, I couldn’t believe it would taste like a cheeseburger but I am here to tell you, it does and it’s delicious! I shared this picture in a soup bowl but I made it in a 9×13 pan. No baking necessary.

cheeseburger shepherd's pie / easy + no bake

If you love cheese, feel free to add more than the recipe calls for. Melted cheese is the best!

bacon Cheeseburger shepherd's pie / perfect for a quick dinner during the week. Feeds 5-7.

My dad loved the fact that he got to eat the “blog post” immediately following the photo shoot. There were about two servings in this bowl so he did share with my mom. My mom said, that almost looks to good to eat. Be careful when you add the Worcestershire sauce, it goes along way and a teaspoon is plenty! Same goes for the ketchup.

Bacon Cheeseburger Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 lb lean ground beef (I used 93%)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 2 cans condensed cheddar cheese soup (10.75 oz each)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/8 cup yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 box/envelope creamy butter instant mashed potatoes (make according to directions) OR boil 5 large potatoes and mash
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Crumbled bacon (I bought the microwavable kind / quick and easy!) *optional
  • Sliced green onions *optional

Instructions

  • Cook beef in a skillet on the stovetop, onion and garlic over low/medium heat (about 5 minutes). Once meat is brown (cooked), stir in soup, ketchup, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Heat to a boil and occasionally stir. Reduce heat once boiling to low, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes
  • Cook potatoes
  • Spoon beef mixture into a serving dish, top with potato and sprinkle cheese. Top with bacon and onion
  • OR
  • Spoon beef mixture into a 9x13 baking dish and layer potato on top (spread evenly). Sprinkle with cheese. Top with bacon and onion.
  • The hot potato will melt the cheese or if potato isn't hot, reheat in microwave.

bacon cheeseburger shepherd's pie / perfect for a quick dinner during the week. Feeds 5-7.

The kids loved it, my grandparents loved it and my parents loved it! Try this recipe, it’s a winner for sure. I cheated and used instant potatoes and the microwavable bacon. I prefer homemade mashed potatoes and if I had thought of it earlier, I would have asked my grandmother to make some. She loves to make mashed potatoes. Instant potatoes work great when you are limited for time. Who would have thought that a bacon cheeseburger mixed with potato would taste so delicious. Bacon Cheeseburger Shepherd’s Pie will definitely be an on-going dinner in our home ;). Be sure to check out our traditional 30 minute Shepherd’s Pie, it won’t disappoint!

Gluten free blueberry muffins

I tried a new recipe a few days ago for gluten free blueberry muffins. I have been having issues with my stomach and am currently having tests done to rule out gluten and other possible allergies that may be making my stomach mad! ha. I won’t lie, gluten free eating is not easy. My husband loves blueberry muffins so I decided to give a gluten free version a try.

gluten free blueberry muffins

The gluten free products are definitely more expensive but I have noticed after a couple weeks of cutting out about 85% gluten from my diet (sometimes I slip and don’t realize there is gluten in something) my stomach isn’t as bloated and upset.

gluten free blueberry muffins

Gluten free blueberry muffins

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup gluten free oats (I used Bob's Red Mill brand)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used lactose free)
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • cinnamon-sugar, for sprinkling on top {optional}

Instructions

  • Stir together the dry ingredients
  • Whisk together the oil, egg, milk, and vanilla
  • Using an electric mixer, slowly beat the milk mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix until thickened
  • Gently fold in the berries
  • Pour muffin mix into greased muffin tin (about 8-10 muffins). Fill half full.
  • Bake 375 for 20 minutes or until center is cooked.
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar if desired
  • If you don't want to use oatmeal, use 1/2 cup of milk instead

adapted from King Arthur

gluten free blueberry muffins

The jury is still out whether or not I am sensitive to gluten. Time will tell I guess. I had gluten free oats on hand so I decided last minute to add them. These gluten free blueberry muffins were delicious and light. My stomach didn’t feel heavy and gross after eating them so that is a win in my book ;).

Jazz up your kids lunch with this treat!

We are trying something new this year. I am guilty of making the lunches with zero help from my son. I know, he should be able to help a little, right? Last year right before Christmas, my mom said, “the kid is going to be 20 years old and not know how to pack his own lunch!” I will probably be the mom that wants to move in with him and his wife and still make his lunch. haha. Just kidding. I am trying to involve my son with the lunch process before school so when Snack Pack asked if we would like to try out their pudding snacks featuring their newly redesigned lid making it easier for kids to open, I giggled to myself and said, YES! Nothing like a fun snack to help boost your eight year olds motivation in the lunch making department :).

Jazz up your kids lunch with snack pack

Snackpack

They sent me this adorable lunch box, Snack Pack puddings and coordinating silverware. Cute right? My son was so excited to help make his lunch all because of this lunch box and yummy chocolate pudding! Snack Pack®, is made with real nonfat milk and fortified with as much calcium as an 8-ounce glass of milk. All Snack Pack® products contain 30% DV calcium, with the exception of Bakery Shop Lemon Meringue Pie, Lemon Pudding, and Snack Pack Gels.

Jazz up your kids lunch with Snack Pack

I love that Snack Pack’s variety of flavors contain NO preservatives or high fructose corn syrup.

Jazz up your kids lunch with Snack Pack

Jazz up your kids lunch with Snack Pack

I know the time is coming where “mom’s notes” in the lunch box will not be well received but for now, he still likes them.

Jazz up your kids lunch with Snack Pack

Snack Pack also redesigned their lids making it easier for kids to open them. I won’t lie, nothing keeps my little man away from chocolate pudding. The lid easily lifts up and tears back super quick. So easy for kids to open! I was impressed with the ease of getting the pudding open, I was happy to see no struggle.

Jazz up your kids lunch with Snack Pack

I remember as a kid in school, watching the clock at school and anticipating lunch time. As a mom, I feel great about adding a Snack Pack treat to my son’s lunch. No high fructose corn syrup and no preservatives and the bonus, he loves it! That’s a win – win in my book ;). You can pick up your Snack Pack in the baking aisle as well as head over to Snack Pack for more information.

Visit Sponsor's Site

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Snack Pack. All opinions are 100% mine.

Demolishing a wall inside the lake house + the lumber yard

We all slept in this morning as we were up late celebrating the Patriots win last night. New England is a pretty happy place to be this morning. No school or work today in celebration of Martin Luther King day, so it worked out perfectly for a late night football game. Last week was a bit crazy and a little overwhelming but we made it. I am not usually a fan of working outside in 10 degree weather but sometimes ya just gotta do it!  Hoping to share more with you soon but what I can tell you is that it involved demolishing a wall and a quick trip to a local lumber yard. If you follow us on instagram and facebook, you saw me last week checking out this very scary old kitchen.  Many of you were in love with these cabinet doors. Sadly, they were not salvageable and needed to go. This house happens to be on a lake with a gorgeous view and my dad’s boss, Lou, bought it a couple months ago to either rehab or demolish. We are working on trying to rehab it but not sure what will happen. It’s a disaster! I personally think it would look great fixed up and then I could sell it for him but we’ll see what happens. You can read more about our workplace, Lou, my dad and me here.

demolishing a wall + getting organized

There is another kitchen on the other side of this wall and the goal is to demolish the entire inside of this home and open it up. It’s only about 800 square feet and all one floor. It was actually fun hitting the wall and breaking through with the sledgehammer. Although, my arms and back were not impressed the next day. It was very dark and these pictures are not the best but you can see how nasty it is. The rug….oh my.

demolishing a wall + getting organized

Here is the wall after we removed the cabinets.

demolishing a wall + getting organized

I’ll be back to share more pictures of the process soon. On another note, we have a really cool lumber yard close to our house and they have the best stuff! I am thinking about building a small coffee table with a fun reclaimed lumber piece as the top. Similar to what we used as the top on our media console.

demolishing a wall + getting organized

Look at these logs!

demolishing a wall + getting organized

I can totally see using two of these cut to 18″ high as the base of the table. Don’t you think that would look cool? Two log bases and a fabulous 2 inch piece of reclaimed lumber as the top. My husband thinks I have lost my mind and would prefer I just buy something but there is no fun in that, right?

 

 

 

Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

My mom’s Betty Crocker recipe book is getting a workout lately! There are so many easy delicious recipes in it. Our schedules have been incredibly busy lately so quick and easy dinners are a must. I made this amazing homemade chicken pot pie a few nights ago and it’s probably one of the best things I have made in a while. I cheated an used a rotisserie chicken instead of making my own chicken. It’s so much quicker to chop up a chicken that is already cooked. Feel free to make your own though.

homemade chicken pot pie

The recipe called for shredded cheese and crumbled bacon, which I didn’t have but I would definitely try it next time.

homemade chicken pot pie

This blue corning ware oven safe dish was on clearance at Walmart for under $2. It’s perfect for soups and especially this pot pie.

Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 can refrigerated flaky biscuits
  • 1 jar 18 ounce home-style chicken gravy
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 cups cubed cooked chicken (I used an already cooked rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 cup cooked carrots
  • 1 cup cooked diced potatoes
  • 1 cup corn (drained)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp dried ground thyme
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
  • Crumbled bacon (optional)

Instructions

  • Cook potatoes and carrots and set aside
  • In a large pot, add gravy and whisk together cornstarch low/medium heat until thickened (about 5 minutes)
  • Add cooked potatoes, chicken, carrots and corn
  • Stir and bring to slow boil
  • Immediately remove from heat once boiling
  • Pour gravy mixture into a 9x13 baking dish
  • Cut biscuits into four pieces and cover the entire gravy mixture with biscuits
  • Bake 375 for 15-20 minutes or until biscuits are cooked (browned)
  • Once cooked, remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes
  • Serves 6

This homemade chicken pot pie is comfort food at it’s finest! Insanely delicious and so easy to make. Next time I would probably use a bag of frozen vegetables to save time but all in all, the prep time was about 20 minutes. This recipe also works perfectly if you have individual oven safe corning ware dishes. Simply spoon the gravy mixture into each bowl and top with a biscuit and bake. Imagine your families face when they are each served with their own cute mug of pot pie ;).

How to make cookie dough {chocolate chip}

Today I wanted to share how to make cookie dough. Cookie dough is my absolute favorite thing to eat in the world. I know you are not suppose to eat it raw but I am guilty x10. When I was in college, I lived with my grandmother (my mom’s mom) for a brief period in Florida and we always watched TV at night and ate Pillsbury chocolate chip cookie dough. She loved it as much as me, maybe even more. Last weekend the kids and I made chocolate chip cookie dough bars and I must say, it brought me back to those days as a kid in Florida with my gram. I swear she sits on my shoulder as my angel from heaven and says, “have some for me!!!” ;)

how to make cookie dough / chocolate chip cookie dough bars

My absolute favorite dessert on the planet.

easy chocolate chip cookie dough bars

EASY Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • Crushed walnuts (optional)

Instructions

  • Cream butter and sugars together in mixer
  • Add eggs and vanilla and continue to mix
  • Slowly add flower, salt and baking soda
  • Mix until smooth
  • Fold in chocolate chips
  • Spread evenly in greased 9x13 glass baking dish
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes on 350
  • I prefer them a bit gooey so I tend to cook a little less.

adapted from Betty Crocker and So Festive.

easy chocolate chip cookie dough bars-2

I usually add more vanilla as I prefer taste but feel free to use less if you don’t care for it. I always add an extra 1/2 – 1 tsp. This dough would also be perfect for valentines day using a heart cookie cutter.  These bars lasted about 2 hours and only because I made everyone wait until after I took pictures. Now that you know how to make cookie dough, would you use chocolate chips or another candy? M&M’s are perfect too!

Organizing my office drawer {1 hour or less}

I have changed things around here a bit in an effort to get organized in 2015. I don’t have a dedicated room as an office so I try to use dressers or side tables with drawers as a place to keep my office supplies. A couple of days ago, I started organizing my office drawer. It wasn’t overly stuffed with junk, it just needed to be organized.

How To: office drawer organization

Organizing my office drawer / Use stackable office supply dividers in a drawer to keep small items together

The problem was, there was nothing keeping like items together.

Office drawer organization-2

 

Do your drawers look like this?

Office drawer organization-3

I took everything out and started fresh.

Office drawer organization-5

I had a set of old office supply organizers that fit perfectly inside the drawer.

Office drawer organization-6

I think the smaller containers would also work nicely to organize jewelry. I have had these fabric covered dividers from HomeGoods for a couple years and I am finally putting them to good use.

Office drawer organization-7

I decided to separate out the paper clips by color and keep the elastics together in another slot.

Office drawer organization-8

These items are daily go-to items that I always need for one thing or another. I have another dresser full of craft items that I don’t use as often.

Office drawer organization-9

This dresser is in our family room behind my newly created desk area. I will share that soon!

Office drawer organization-10

When you don’t have a dedicated room as an office, you have to improvise and work with what you have. We have so many multipurpose rooms in our home, it’s the only way for us! ha. You don’t really have a choice when you live with four generations under one roof.

Office drawer organization-11

Doesn’t it look so much better? Don’t laugh but I tend to use colored paper clips when I am organizing my editorial calendar. Each color represents a brand and project due date. I know, kind of crazy but it makes my calendar look pretty ;). Green means finished and red means “to do.”

Office drawer organization-12

Office drawer organization-13

Office drawer organization-14

Organizing my office drawer took about one hour. That’s it! If I wasn’t taking pictures, it would have taken less time. Empty, purge, add storage containers and place items in their new home. Easy! For me, I love doing “in house” DIY projects such as organizing and creating functional spaces during the winter months. It’s way to cold outside to be cutting wood, sanding or spray painting. Trust me, I would much prefer laying on the couch in front of the fire and watching soap opera’s (that’s what my gram does all day!!) but something about getting organized motivates me and keeps me going. Winter is a depressing time for me so these little projects and “little wins” keep me sane ;). Happy organizing!

How To: Valentines Day Oreo Cookies

Have you ever tried making Valentines Day Oreo Cookies? I am working on something for a mid February post and these Oreo cookies are included. Don’t they look yummy? In about 15 minutes, I dipped an entire package of Oreo cookies in white chocolate. I used pink colored candy melts by Wilton. I melted in the microwave and that was it!

How to make Valentines Day Oreo Cookies dipped in White Chocolate. Easy and perfect for a kids party at school.

Valentines Day Oreo Cookies / easy chocolate dipped cookies with sprinkles

Chocolate dipped Oreo cookies are perfect for celebrating Valentines Day, especially for kids to bring to a school party.

Items Needed:

2 bags Wilton Candy Melts (bright pink)

Parchment paper

Oreo Cookies

Sprinkles

Valentines Day Oreo Cookies-2

Simply melt the candy according to the directions on the back of the package, dip the cookie in the melted candy and place on parchment paper. Top with your favorite sprinkles and you are done. The candy hardened on the cookies in about 15 minutes. Be sure to add your sprinkles before the candy hardens.

Who would have thought that Valentines Day Oreo Cookies would be so easy and adorable!  Happy crafting and baking for Valentines Day. I’ll will be sharing these cute little guys soon in another post ;).

Grandparents + food + winter

I have been sharing so much food lately that I decided it was time to post about something else. Something about winter does that to us. We love to cook in the winter! My grandmother is loving the fact that my mom and I are doing most of the cooking and she is getting the majority of the left overs. My grandfather is old school and still believes that his “woman” needs to have dinner on the table by 5pm every night. It’s a good thing I am not married to him because I don’t think he would still be alive ;). Lately, all she needs to do is warm up what we have made and violia, it’s on the table by 5pm. He can’t complain right?

my grandfather thinks I lost his extension cord

I personally think he puts on a show to act all tough but there is a part of him that really does believe he deserves to be waited on. I think my grandmother is the only one on the planet that caters to his every need. Oh well, if it works for her, then so be it!

grandparents + food + winter

She told me the other day she plans on staying inside until April. She said there is no need for her to feel zero degree weather. She isn’t kidding either. I think she would be fine for months inside as long as she could watch Young and the Restless and General Hospital. Fingers crossed this year that they get through the winter without getting pneumonia or worse. Thankfully my grandfather is staying home on the really cold mornings and not going to work with my dad. Only 4 more months of cold weather. He hates when I tell him that ;).

PS. I am over at HomeGoods sharing rockstar lighting ideas to brighten up your home…..come visit me here and let me know what you think!

 

Mom’s Crock Pot Chicken Stew

My mom and gram ( and me!)  love to use their crock pots. Today we are sharing a crock pot chicken stew that is so delicious. The winter time, especially where we live, calls for chicken stew at least once or twice a month. Hot soups and stews are perfect on a cold night. We purchased all the vegetables cut up to save time but of course, you can cut your own.

Mom's Crock Pot Chicken Stew

Doesn’t it look yummy?

Crock Pot Chicken Stew

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs boneless chicken breast / cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, halved
  • 2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup celery, sliced, 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, thinly sliced
  • 3 potatoes cubed
  • 2 tb chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground, to taste
  • 14 1/4 ounces chicken broth
  • 6 ounces tomato paste

Instructions

  • Add vegetables, garlic and chicken to crock pot
  • Stir in liquids
  • Stir in tomato paste
  • Add seasonings
  • Cook on high 4 hours or until carrots & potatoes are tender

So delicious! Crock pot chicken stew

Adapted from Food.Com

Crock Pot Chicken Stew

My grandfather was so impressed, he would only share two bowls. He wanted a weeks worth for his refrigerator. ha. Crock pot chicken stew is perfect for a winter night and fabulous the next day for lunch. Make a huge amount and you will enjoy it for days. Be sure to check out our kitchen for more delicious home recipes.

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