Happiness Project#74: Family Chili Dip!



It’s nearly time. In a little over a week I’ll be going in for my 4th major surgery in 3 years. This time I’ll be having multiple damaged discs in my lower neck repaired. An invasive procedure that I’ve been needing to have done for well over 10 years. And here’s the honest, unfiltered truth: I’m scared out of my mind. Not because I don’t believe that it won’t work, because I do know that it will help me immensely, and I’ll finally (finally) be able to move pain-free again. Cue the hallelujahs!

Nor is it the thought of the recovery either (which will be 2 to 3 very long months), that’s messing with my head. It’s the surgery itself that’s leaving me incredibly, and irrationally nervous and anxious and yes, scared. You’d think that after undergoing 8 major surgeries within the last 11 years, I’d have gotten over this irrational fear of mine. Geez, I even have a handy prescription for the many situations just like this, when the fear and anxiety is nearly debilitating. But yet, after 11 years of more ER visits than I can count, the idea of being put under full anesthesia (as well as my actual neck being worked on), is still one of my deepest fears. It doesn’t seem to matter how encouraging and logical any of my family & friends are, when attempting to snap me out my panic. Logic doesn’t make it any easier.  Because it’s all just horribly, horribly scary. So even though I cannot wait to be pain-free and mobile again (like you wouldn’t believe), the waiting for and then undergoing both the surgery and long recovery, is leaving me undeniably emotional.

So what does this Mama do when her brain is freaking out over things that cannot possibly be controlled? She bakes. Or if not that, she whips up something else just as tantalizing. Because kitchen wizardry is my kind of therapy. Hence this super easy, delightfully addictive 3 ingredient Chili Dip! Yes, I did just say only THREE ingredients! Which means chip dip for days!! Here’s all you need:

2 cans of your favorite canned chili with beans, warmed by either microwave or stovetop

1/2 cup of fresh sour cream

A couple pinches of shredded cheddar cheese

Your favorite bag of dipping chips! In this case, tortilla strips!

Remember how I just mentioned how crazy easy this recipe is? Well, it really is. Because all you need to do is mix up the warmed chili with the sour cream, with the shredded cheese. Until those 3 ingredients are nicely fully blended.

And then, dip those chips!

Just a little warning, though. This dip is deliciously addictive, so you might need to forcibly resist gobbling up this entire chili dip in one mere sitting. My family can’t. I dare you to instead. Ha.

In case this is my last recipe post before my surgery next week, I’ll see you all on the flip side!


Happiness Project:#73: Birthday Candy Popcorn Balls!


It’s official. My beautiful Little Girl is now THREE! And although it makes me sad (because every year seems to go by faster), I can’t say enough of how proud I am with who this loving, affectionate, joyful, determined and feisty Little Girl of mine is becoming. Beyond with how she saves me, day in and day out, her unique light of being sparks up around her, no matter where she is or who she’s with. She’s my little firecracker. And yet, in many ways, nothing like me. Which I absolutely adore about her. I have a sneaky suspicion, that this Mischief Maker of mine will move mountains one day. Though she already does such, in my heart.

To celebrate the 3 years that my family & friends have been blessed with her presence, there was (obviously) a grand party in celebration. With Paw Patrol, Bubble Guppies, bubble wands, puppy masks, vanilla cupcakes, sprinkle marshmallow pops and these ridiculously tasty Candy Popcorn Balls! Which were gobbled up, by the kids and adults alike, and raved about as soon as they found their tabletop destination. And are incredibly easy (& wonderfully messy) to create! Because you all know how much I LOVE all things messy! Ha.

Here’s all you need:

1 baking sheet, covered with parchment paper

1 bag of fully popped unsalted, unbuttered popcorn

3 tablespoons salted butter, plus another half cup of softened butter (for greasing your hands)

2 cups mini marshmallows

Your favorite small candies (in this case, my daughter’s favorite candy: M&M’s)

*1 cup crushed pretzels (optional)

Firstly, pop that bag of popcorn. Sift through the bag of popcorn for any unpopped kernels to discard. Pour into a large bowl. Add in the candy and pretzels (if using). Mix well.

To create the marshmallow glue, heat up the 3 tablespoons of butter and marshmallows, in a medium sized pot, over medium-high heat. While the butter and marshmallows are melting, stir them both together, until both are fully melted. Remove from the stovetop.

Pour the marshmallow glue over the bowl of popcorn candy. Using your hands, mix everything very well, so that all of the popcorn is covered and sticky.

Now, the really, REALLY messy part! Which is kinda the best part, in my opinion. Lightly grease both your hands with a dab of the reserved, softened butter. Gently scoop out a small chunk of the well mixed popcorn, and firmly press into a 2 to 3 inch round ball. Place the still warm popcorn ball onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Grease both of your hands again before continuing on to creating the next popcorn ball. Please note: between each popcorn ball, grease your hands well. In order for the balls to keep their shape (& for all of those ingredients to stick together), shaping them in the palms of your buttered hands will essentially bind up the balls good & tight. Repeat this step until you’ve created 24-30 small popcorn balls.

Once all of those balls are created, pop the pan with that 2 dozen or so of them, into the fridge to chill, until ready to serve. And by serve, I really mean, disappear. All you need to do is turn your back for a few minutes and POOF, they’re GONE! Trust me. It’s a fairly satisfying thing to experience.

Much THANKS to my fellow blogger friend, over at Crafty Cooking Mama, for the recipe inspiration! Her Candy Corn Popcorn Balls look PERFECT for Fall parties!


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