The Little Things Newsletter #378 – Life, laughter, and lots of great food!

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Welcome to the weekend, my friends! This entire week has been a whirlwind and the weekend is going to be every bit as full for us. My older boys convinced me to do the Barbenheimer thing with them, so we’ll be watching a double feature of the Barbie movie and Oppenheimer tonight. I’ll let you know what I think of it all next week.

Sean and I saw Don McLean in concert last night for his 50th-anniversary tour of American Pie. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect, as I’ve never thought of him as a big performer, but wow. His musicians were incredible and his voice?? 77 years old and he still gave me chills – it was a bit reminiscent of Johnny Cash several times. (And last but definitely not least, mad props to the man who managed to make his American Pie finale last almost 20 minutes and kept the crowd going the entire time.)

ON THE BLOGS this week: Beef and broccoli is a classic restaurant dish that is surprisingly easy to re-create at home. With tender strips of beef, crisp broccoli, and a flavorful sauce; it all comes together in just minutes.

The savory allure of bacon dances with the subtle crunch of fresh cauliflower and sweet, chewy cranberries in this bacon lover’s cauliflower salad.

Want a little more bacon goodness in your life? Toasted sourdough bread is loaded with melted cheese and mouthwatering strips of perfectly cooked bacon in this bacon grilled cheese.

The simple goodness of fresh corn and wholesome ingredients makes this scalloped corn a heartwarming Amish classic.

Tender broccoli and rich, melting cheese bring so much flavor to each of these broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken breasts.

The slight tang of buttermilk pairs perfectly with sweet, ripe blueberries in these light and fluffy blueberry buttermilk pancakes. And these eggless pancakes prove that you can skip the eggs and still have the soft, fluffy pancakes you know and love.

Creamy smooth ice cream bursting with buttery popcorn flavor? Is that too crazy an idea? Absolutely not. One taste is all it will take to make a believer out of you too.

What I’m CRAVING: Sushi. ALL the sushi. Can you be addicted to sushi? If so, my hand is raised over here. I didn’t even like sushi when Sean and I were first married and it’s only been in the last 5 or so years that I r

Popcorn Ice Cream

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Creamy smooth ice cream bursting with buttery popcorn flavor? Is that too crazy an idea? Absolutely not. One taste is all it will take to make a believer out of you too.

Oh. My. Word. When I had the initial idea for this flavor, it was loosely inspired by my love for this Caramel Popcorn Ice Cream Sundae. I had no clue at the time just how fantastic that ice cream idea would turn out to be.

a horizontally aligned photo of a bowl of popcorn ice cream that has been drizzled with caramel sauce, and a metal spoon handle sticking out of it

Ice Cream with Popcorn

Crunchy caramel popcorn and ice cream, topped with hot fudge, caramel, whipped cream, the first time I tried that ice cream sundae it left me speechless. And, it also left me wanting to try an actual ice cream that might taste like popcorn.

If you’ve known me long, you might know that I often enough make dinner out of a bowl of popcorn. Or an afternoon snack. Or a post-breakfast snack. I will happily handful as a snack any time of the day.

So, the idea of making ice cream with popcorn had me intrigued. Why not turn one of my favorite snacks into my favorite kind of dessert?

The first method I tried was to simply soak the popcorn in milk and then strain it, much the same way that I make cereal milk ice cream flavors. Well, that resulted in very little popcorn flavor.

Next up, I soaked the popped kernels in the ice cream mixture after warming it on the stovetop. Then, when it was soft, I blended it until completely smooth. This result? Mind-blowing. Actual popcorn flavored ice cream.

a top down photo of a serving board with a bowl of ice cream and a jar of caramel sauce on it, with a blue and white checkered napkin in the background.

I can’t get enough of it. There’s nothing better than serv

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

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The slight tang of buttermilk pairs perfectly with sweet, ripe blueberries in these light and fluffy Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes.

A stack of warm, fluffy blueberry pancakes on a white and blue plate

Blueberry Pancakes with Buttermilk

I love berries in my waffles and pancakes, but there’s something special about making blueberry pancakes with buttermilk. The buttermilk makes them a little lighter and fluffier, and it adds that signature tang.

Make sure to use real buttermilk in this recipe! You’ll find a lot of substitutions online, but the result is so much better with the real deal. If you don’t have it on hand, don’t worry. You can make some killer blueberry pancakes without it.

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

I adore the simplicity of breaking out the griddle and whipping up a batch of pancake batter in just a few minutes. (So, my family eats pancakes pretty often.)

We’ve tried pancakes with everything from chocolate chips, to M&Ms, fresh fruit, nuts, and even sweet cereals added in. But, this blueberry buttermilk pancake recipe balances the tangy buttermilk and sweet berries wonderfully and it’s a current favorite.

A close up shot of drizzling maple syrup over a pat of butter atop a pile of buttermilk blueberry pancakesRead more

Havarti Tomato Basil Grilled Cheese

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Havarti Tomato Basil Grilled Cheese

a photo of several halved grilled cheese sandwiches stacked on top of each other so you can see the cheese melting out of it and the layers of tomato and fresh basil.

Oh sweet little piece of deliciousness. This grilled cheese sandwich has become one of our absolute favorites. The simplicity of it is what reeled me in years ago when I saw it featured on a popular talk show. There is a secret ingredient that totally makes this sandwich!

The sandwich has a caprese feel which is one of my favorite flavors in case you couldn’t tell by this caprese sandwich, caprese burgers, roasted tomato caprese soup with mini mozzarella grilled cheese bite croutons (seriously to die for), and grilled caprese chicken.

Everyone we’ve ever made these grilled sandwiches for has been so hesitant about the ingredients list, whole wheat bread, havarti cheese, fresh basil, garden tomatoes, and the secret ingredient…HONEY. Yes, honey. And trust me it’s exactly what the sandwich needs. It’s like a little twist on the classic caprese flavors.

Recommended Equipment

Before you Begin…

Get all your ingredients ready…slice the tomatoes, rinse the basil leaves, butter (or use olive oil) the bread. Then assembling the sandwiches is quick and easy!

Ingredients for Havarti Tomato Basil Grilled Cheese

Well, pretty much all the ingredients for this sandwich recipe are listed in the title, so no surprises here! Except for that secret ingredient! Don’t forget that one!

  • Havarti
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Wheat Bread
  • Honey

My best tip for choosing ingredients for a grilled cheese sandwich is that high quality ingredients make a high quality sandwich! The details for the ingredients can be found in the recipe card below.

How to Make Grilled Cheese

Preheat a skillet over medium heat. Prepare the sandwiches by spreading one side of each of the slices of bread with either butter or olive oil and then drizzling the other side of each slice with honey.

Layer the cheese, tomatoes and basil, and then top with the other slice of bread. Place the sandwich on the preheated skillet and cook until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden and toasty. Flip and let the other side toast as well.

Better Than Takeout Beef and Broccoli

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This beef and broccoli stir-fry is a classic restaurant dish that is surprisingly easy to re-create at home. With tender strips of beef, crisp broccoli, and a flavorful sauce; it all comes together in just minutes.

stir fry steak and broccoli in black bowl

Want to know a secret? I have a weakness for Chinese take-out. Some nights nothing hits the spot quite like those takeout favorites, right?

I’ve been ordering beef and broccoli for years and was pretty confident I could make my own version that would be every bit as good or better than my favorite takeout joint.

I’ve made several different versions of this beef and broccoli stir-fry over the past few years and combined a few I liked to make this version. The meal was an instant hit with my whole family and has become our favorite easy dinners over the past 10+ years.

broccoli beef in black bowl

With the zing of fresh ginger and plenty of garlic, the stir-fry sauce pairs so well with tender strips of beef and crisp broccoli. The broccoli is cooked until tender, without becoming even a little bit mushy.

Next time you get a craving for Chinese food, skip the take-out order and make this instead. It’s just as quick as ordering delivery and tastes even better.

Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Both flank and sirloin steak work equally well in this beef and broccoli stir-fry. Sliced into ultra-thin strips, the beef winds up amazingly tender and full of flavor from the sauce.

I’ve found some stir-fry recipes everything ends up getting overcooked and mushy from the sauce. That is NOT the case here! The broccoli stayed slightly crisp with a nice bite while the meat has a browned exterior and juicy inside.

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