Bacon Brown Sugar Smokies

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Holiday entertaining season is here and as someone who is happiest with a home filled with people to feed, I’m rolling out all of my best recipes. While I love being in the kitchen, I know that the upcoming holiday season won’t alway allow me the extra time in my favorite place to cook, so I keep a few super simple recipes on hand that save me time, but still offer a delicious morsel for my family and friends. These Bacon Brown Sugar Smokies are a simple throw together recipe that offer huge savory sweet flavor. No one dislikes bacon, so it’s a recipe that’s sure to be s hit with any visitors or holiday potluck.

I start by slicing a package of bacon into thirds.

I wrap one piece of bacon around a smokie and secure it using a toothpick.

I place the smokie onto a plate and repeat the process until I’ve wrapped all my smokies. If I’m really pressed for time, I can wrap the smokies and pop them into the freezer until I’m ready to bake them. I just add some additional time to the oven and keep an eye on the bacon until it gets to the crispy texture I prefer.

Once my smokies are all rolled in bacon, I combine some brown sugar and cayenne pepper in a bowl and gently roll each smokie in the mixture before transferring it to a prepared baking dish (lightly sprayed with nonstick oil). My favorite baking sheets can be found here.

I bake the Bacon Brown Sugar Smokies in a 425F oven for ten minutes before flipping and popping them back in for an additional ten minutes (add additional time for crispier bacon).

These Bacon Brown Sugar Smokies come out of the oven perfectly browned and covered in caramelized brown sugar. The cayenne adds a gentle kick and spice for the perfect balance of savory sweet flavors. These are always the first thing to disappear when I serve them at our family gatherings or potlucks. I just don’t know if anyone has any self control when it comes to bacon!


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Sausage & Veggies Sheet Pan Dinner

As a busy work from home mom of a blended family, my schedule gets pretty crazy. While I love being in my kitchen and cooking for my family, there are evenings when I need a quick and simple solution to feed my hungry family. This Sausage and Veggies Sheet Pan Dinner is a cinch to throw together and leaves me with next to no dishes, which is always a fun bonus for a sheet pan dinner.

I start by chopping up some cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and yellow bell pepper.

And I slice up a precooked sausage.

I line my baking sheet with tinfoil and spread the veggies and the sausage over it.

I add some oregano, dried minced onion, salt, pepper, and olive oil over the top.

I give it all a gentle toss and place it in a 400F degree oven for about 45 minutes.

Once it’s done, I pull it out and immediately sprinkle it with some shredded parmesan cheese.

I like to serve this Sausage and Veggies Sheet Pan Dinner over brown rice, but it’s also great all on it’s own. The veggies can easily be swapped to whatever is in season like broccoli, squash, green beans, corn, or brussels sprouts. This versatile recipe can be customized to fit whatever your family’s preferences are; it’s a simple dish that it impossible to mess up.


For additional recipes like this one, be sure to follow @ourhollydays on Instagram where I update daily and often share what we’re having for dinner on my Instastories.

My Well Yes Moment

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WellYesMoment #CollectiveBias

This August marked a new season of life for me. My sidekick, my youngest, started preschool which has left me with some free time during the day. As a work from home mom, I was excitedly anticipating the day she’d be off to school, leaving me with a few blissful hours to work quietly, listen to some music instead of the same princess show for the eleventeenth time, and increase my productivity. What I wasn’t prepared for was the emptiness I felt coming home to a totally silent house. Her older brothers have been in school for several years now, so I thought this would be an easy transition, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

My little girl needed me, after all. She’s my spirited one. The one who needs her lunch arranged just so. The one who prefers the pink princess water bottle over the green fairy one. The one who relies on me to help her process through those little girl emotions. Would the teacher know that she sometimes needs help with her juice straw or that when she’s nervous she needs to hold a hand? Mom emotions are real, my friends. Sometimes we just can’t get a grip, am I right?

Inspired by  Well Yes!® Soups, I realized that sometimes yes can be reassuring. My yes moments in life are often of me tackling my goals and chasing my dreams, but in this season of life, my yes moment needed to be different. I reassure myself that yes, this is okay and yes, this is life. Yes, you’re in a new chapter and yes, it’s all going to be okay. My moment of yes is one of comfort, much like a warm mug full of my favorite Well Yes! Soups which inspired my mom moment of yes.

Well Yes! helps women and moms like me say yes to deliciously crafted food, with real ingredients, so that I have what I need to say yes in the other areas of my life, like reassuring myself that preschool doesn’t equal college, ha! Well Yes! soups are crafted with care and feature real and nutritious ingredients to create incredibly flavored soups, without compromise.

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My daughter still needs me and it’s clear that I need her, but part of being a mom is letting go to allow room for independence and growth. Preschool is a small step, but for her it feels big and she is proud to be gaining some independence. But I’m fairly confident I’m going to need to remind myself in these moments of her life to relax, enjoy, and say yes.

Don’t forget to enter the #WellYesMoment Sweepstakes in the widget below for a chance to win up to a $500 Visa gift card! It’s as easy as clicking, logging in, and sharing your Moment of Yes story! If you win, think of all the ways you can use the prizing to achieve your Moment of Yes!

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What is your yes moment as a mom? When did you have to reassure yourself with a calming yes, this is okay? Let’s chat mom emotions in the comments below. Read more yes moments from Well Yes! Soups by visiting the social hub where you’ll find inspiring stories from bloggers like me.

Halloween Eyeball Cupcakes

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and the Coca-Cola Company. All opinions are mine alone. #FrightAndDelight #CollectiveBias

When Halloween comes around, I can’t help but dream up spooky and festive ideas in the kitchen. As a mother, it’s practically my sworn duty to bring some Halloween magic into my home. I’ve created everything from Zombie Eyeball Pretzel Snacks to Bloody Shirley Temples and every year, I feel the need to create something totally new and outside of the box. Inspired by the spooky Halloween packaging on the Fanta mini cans, I created these Halloween Eyeball Cupcakes which aren’t only a perfectly decorated Halloween treat, but also offer a creepy eyeball surprise garnishing each cupcake.

I start by adding a box of white cake mix to a large bowl.

And I add in two mini cans of Fanta Orange.

I mix everything together gently and then transfer the batter to a cupcake pan I lined with fun metallic cupcake liners.

I bake the cupcakes according to the instructions on the back of the cake mix box.

Once they’re done, I pull them out of the oven and let them cool for a couple of hours.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, I get to the fun part: decorating! I pipe frosting over the top of each cupcake and add a candy eyeball.

Using some red food coloring, I drip blood all over the cupcakes. The messier the better.

These creepy cupcakes add an extra special element to our Halloween movie nights while Fanta’s irresistibly fruity flavor and bold colors bring our movie night to life. These Halloween Eyeball Cupcakes may look disgusting, but they taste amazing and are so easy to make!

Learn more about Fanta and all of their irresistible flavors to create your own spooky recipes, be sure to visit the Fanta website.

One Pan Salsa Verde Pasta

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BarillaFusion #CollectiveBias

Warm, gooey, full of cheesy goodness, and loaded with infused flavor, my One Pan Salsa Verde Pasta recipe is what dreams are made of. Working with Barilla pasta is like having a blank canvas; adding flavor to create a totally reinvented meal is easier than it seems, which is what I did with this simple one pan recipe.

I started by adding some chicken I’d already diced into bite size chunks into a large skillet with some olive oil. I seasoned them with a little salt and pepper while they cooked for several minutes until they completely cooked through and I removed them from the pan and set them aside on a plate.

In the same skillet I added some chicken broth, salsa verde, heavy cream, and some uncooked Barilla Penne pasta. I gave everything a few good stirs and let it come to a boil. Once it was at a boil, I turned the heat down to low, covered the skillet with a lid, and let it simmer for several minutes until the pasta was tender – al dente is always perfect.

I added the chicken back into the skillet along with some pepper jack cheese and combined everything together.

I added plenty of freshly chopped cilantro once the pasta was slightly cooled down and ready to serve.

This zesty One Pan Salsa Verde Pasta has quickly become one of my family’s weeknight favorites. It’s simple to throw together, packed with bold flavor, and only leaves me with one pan to clean up after cooking.

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For additional recipes featuring Barilla pasta from bloggers like me, be sure to visit the Barilla social hub where you can also spin to win one of thousands of prizes, but you’re guaranteed to win at least a coupon to use towards your next Barilla purchase.

Simple Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

For me, fall months are when I dig out my favorite soup recipes. I’m happiest when I’m in the kitchen with the windows open while the cool air breezes through. I throw on Pandora’s Autumn Jazz station, pull out my best knives, and start prepping all of the veggies for whatever soup or stew I’ve dreamed up in my head that day. I’m a firm believer that when it comes to soup or stew, cooking low and slow all day long makes the best kind. This Simple Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup cooks all day, allowing the flavor to develop and the vegetables to soften while they cook in warm broth all afternoon.

I start by preparing all my veggies. I chop up several stalks of celery, carrots, and a couple of small onions. I throw them into my slow cooker with three large cartons of chicken broth, some dill, a bit of bullion, and three chicken breasts.

If I’m using fresh chicken, everything cooks together in about four hours, but if I’m using frozen it takes almost six. Once the chicken is cooked, I remove it and shred it up using my stand mixer. This is my favorite trick to shredding chicken quickly. A hand mixer will work too.

I gently drop the shredded chicken back into the slow cooker and add two to three cups of noodles and crank it up to the high setting for about fifteen minutes until the noodles are tender.

This Simple Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup is easy to make, but tastes like you’ve been at it all day (all hail the slow cooker!). It’s warm, comforting, and is best enjoyed in my coziest fall sweater with that Pandora Autumn Jazz station playing softly in the background. Trust me friends, you need the station in your life.

Fore additional recipes like this one and my favorites from fellow bloggers, be sure to follow the Our Holly Days page on Facebook where I update frequently throughout the week.

5 Ways My Phone Keeps My Family Organized

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SamsungTargetTech #CollectiveBias

Staying connected in any family is a challenge, but my blended family has it’s own unique set of challenges and schedules that require some serious organization. Thankfully, organization is my jam and taking what would normally be a mish-mash-mess (term I’ve  somehow just coined and transforming it into a streamlined calendar is an exciting use of my time. One of our my most used tools in staying organized is my Samsung Galaxy Note8, my phone literally does it all, much like me. You could say we’re kindred spirits, Note8 and I. While my paper planner will always be my MVP, not everyone in my family uses it, so I rely on apps, texting, and all the features available on my Note8 to keep it all in one easy place for everyone to reference. Really it’s not me that keeps things together, but my phone that keeps my family organized, doing what I can’t to keep us all productive.

Using the Cozi app

This handy app allows me to share our calendar with everyone in the family. As soon as I update something in the app, it alerts the rest of the family, which means last minute changes are a cinch. I can also create grocery lists or send shopping lists to other family members, which comes in handy when I need my husband to pick something up on the way home from work.

Using a calendar screenshot

This is a handy way for my kids to quickly reference their schedules or what’s going on with the family. Every week, they can screenshot the schedule and set it as their phone’s lock screen. They can even add in their school or class schedule, making it easier for them to see where they need to be at a glance.

Group texting

Every mom’s best friend. This is such a handy way to keep everyone in the loop in real time. It also allows our family to stay connected as an entire family unit.

Using the Marco Polo App

This fun video app works like a walkie talkie, but with video. I can quickly send a video to my kids when they’re visiting their other parents without interrupting any of their plans.

Staying connected

Above all else, staying connected with all of my kids is important. Since I split time with them between other homes, I savor every minute. Thankfully even when they are somewhere else I can easily stay connected with my Galaxy Note8.

My Samsung Galaxy Note8 is loaded with features like the s-pen, water resistance, and even an iris scanner, allowing me to worry less about keeping my phone protected (raise your hand if your kid has spilled apple juice on your phone in a restaurant!). The screen allows me to multitask, because moms are queen multitaskers (kindred spirits), by launching two apps at once. The powerful hardware including a 64GB memory, 50% more RAM, and an advanced processor keeps my phone working. And the camera is pretty rad itself, in fact, it’s the reason I switched to the Note8 with sharper, more precise photos.

Enter for a chance to win one of over $4600 in prizes, including a grand prize Samsung Galaxy Note8 prize pack. Use the widget below to enter.

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Learn more about the Samsung Galaxy Note8 and see how bloggers like me are using theirs with tips, tricks, ideas, and more by visiting the Samsung Galaxy Note8 social hub.

How to Be a Leslie Knope Gift Giver

This post is sponsored by Uncommon Goods. All thoughts, opinions, and ideas are my own. Thank you to Uncommon Goods for partnering with me and thank you readers for supporting the brands that support this blog and my family.

When it comes to gift giving, I’m a regular Leslie Knope. I’m also a Leslie Knope in that what even is the point of waffles if there’s not an absurd ratio of whipped cream on top, but I digress (whipped cream will do that to me). Giving thoughtful and unique gifts is one of my favorite things. Next to making food for my family and friends, giving presents is my love language. While it may seem like a lot of extra work to dream up a spectacular gift for family and friends, my secret for thoughtful gift giving is Uncommon Goods. They have such a huge variety of fun and unique gifts that you don’t have to look to hard to find something truly original.

For my birthday, I found this incredible Hand Embroidered Michigan Pillow (all fifty states available). It fits in perfectly with my mish mash of decor and showcases my favorite state with flair. While I love my new pillow, I’m also totally heart eyes over this bow tie pasta necklace, this dreamy Earthenware bowl, and these Homesick candles. I love that they find artists and creators to feature and even share studio tours with some of their more popular ones.

Uncommon Goods makes thoughtful and personalized gift giving simple and fun with their wide array of unique items. While October is just arriving, it’s never too early to get started on your Christmas shopping and now that I’ve shared my secret with you, it will be a cinch to find and purchase gifts for the Ron Swanson in your life.

DIY Paw Print Art

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NutrishFureverHome #CollectiveBias

Four years ago our family was ready to add a pet. Both my husband and I grew up with dogs in our family and we both have a special affection for canines. We adopted our sweet Merry dog from a rescue that promised they’d send us her vaccine and spay records in the mail because they couldn’t find them in the files they had brought with them to the adoption event. We shrugged it off, but weeks went by without any papers arriving in the mail and several months later our Merry girl was giving birth to puppies in my son’s bedroom. She was pregnant! As soon as Merry was recovered and physically able, we had her vaccinated and spayed. We also spent the next few months caring for all ten, yes ten, of her puppies as we worked diligently to find them homes. Thankfully Merry ended up in our home, where we knew the commitment we made when adopting her and worked through all the obstacles to keep her healthy and safe. She’s truly a part of our family and we can’t imagine not having her around.

In October 2017, our support (and yours!) will help Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® donate $250,000 to benefit shelter pets like Merry and find the homes they deserve. Enter the sweepstakes for a chance to win $25,000 and other prizes! Purchase any Nutrish® item during the Sweepstakes Period, then visit and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the registration form. Then upload a digital photo of your original purchase receipt the Nutrish product circled to receive one entry into the Sweepstakes. Sweepstakes begins on October 1, 2017 at 12:00:00 a.m. Eastern Time (“ET”) and ends on October 31, 2017 at 11:59:59 p.m. ET (the “Sweepstakes Period”).

My husband shares an extra special bond with Merry. The two if them just seem to speak each others language. I thought it would be fun to create this fun DIY Paw Print Art using Merry’s paw print.

I started by painting a blank canvas a light purple. I let it dry for several hours allowing it to set completely.

Then I dabbed some paint onto Merry’s paw and pressed it lightly onto the canvas.

We got a little messy, but I just covered up the paint with more purple.

Once Merry’s paw print was dry the project was complete! A crazy simple project that celebrates the canine in our lives.

Merry’s story is just one of many shelter dogs, but she’s enriched our lives. Rachael’s Rescue® was created for all of the forgotten and lost pets, the ones who might not have someone who loves them as much as they deserve. A portion of proceeds from each sale of Nutrish is donated to The Rachael Ray Foundation, which helps animals in need through Rachael’s Rescue. Through September 2017, Rachael’s Rescue has donated more than $21 million dollars to pet charities and other organizations that do good for animals. The funds are used for food, medical supplies, treatments, and more for animals in need. Many more animals around the country need help, and through Rachael’s Rescue, together we can make a difference in the lives of many four-legged friends. By purchasing Rachael Ray Nutrish items and entering the sweepstakes above, you can help too.

For more information on Nutrish and how you can help shelter pets through the company, be sure to visit the Nutrish website or follow Nutrish on Facebook. You can pick up Nutrish products at your nearest Dollar General.

PaperMate Flairs Pen Test

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Planner and stationery addicts get a little crazy about their pens and other writing utensils. When we find that perfect pen that doesn’t bleed through, has the perfect tip, and creates bold color, we stay loyal and true. For me, that pen has been my beloved PaperMate Flairs. You might be wondering how a gal could write an entire blog post around a pen. And let me just tell you, this is happening. Because I love my Flairs! You don’t have to. If you think I’m crazy for writing an entire post about pens, that’s fine. But you’ve officially been warned!

PaperMate Flairs are offered in a wide variety of colors. I first discovered them when I worked as a bid coordinator for a construction company. I used red pen a lot and nothing was bold enough. I prefer a wider tip and just couldn’t find the perfect red. Until I found the red Flair. It was bold, smooth, and didn’t bleed through like my previously loved fine tip Sharpies. When I discovered they were offered in every color of the rainbow and then some, I bought my first set. Since then PaperMate Flairs have helped me to outline and achieve my goals, plan birthday parties and events, and even journal privately. I love these pens, you guys!

In the planner community, we love a good pen test so I’m sharing exactly that, a PaperMate Flairs pen test, with my favorite Flair colors so you can see how perfectly bright the color spill from the perfect felt tip. While I prefer the M tips, they come in other sizes as well (non pen addicts won’t get this nonsense, I’m sorry friends).

I treat myself to a fresh pack of these pens every year during back to school season (usually when you can get them for the best price) and use them literally all year long until the ink runs out. Even my husband knows that my Flairs are totally off limits and asks before he touches my pen collection, ha!

Fellow pen addicts be sure to follow the Our Holly Days page on Facebook where I update daily throughout the week with my fave finds, printables, planner tips, and more.