End of 2013 + 4 Years of Marriage!

Well the end of 2013 rocked the Maners household! I spent more time working than I care to admit (both NCSU & freelance) and then add in Christmas production at church (I was the lighting designer you can check out the full thing online at http://yourfavoritechristmas.com), traveling to my parents’ for Christmas, then to Florida for a wedding, and stopping in Savannah to see the e’Silvas; needless to say we spent very little time at home. Ryker has been an extreme trooper through it all, including the 1200+ miles in a car seat!

As with any infant, we had to take lots of photos over the holidays including some adorable ones of Ryker in front of Mimi Maners’ Christmas tree. Thanks to my buddy Brian C. for letting me borrow a remote flash and shoot through umbrella setup. You can see them all at http://photos.themanersfamily.com/Ryker/Christmas-2013. The photos came out way better than I could have imagined so I hope you enjoy!


Believe it or not, today marks 4 years of marriage for LaBranda and I. We’ve shared a lot of excitement as well as a lot of challenges over these few short years. Thanks to all of our friends and family who support, encourage, and share this crazy thing called life with us. We are forever grateful to God for seeing fit to bring us together and we can’t wait to see what He has in store for us!


Continue Reading

Cooking for a Crowd

Every Thanksgiving and Christmas season our church hosts an event for ladies to help orient our minds to the true meaning of the holidays, rightly called Holidays Fit for the King. Today, I was honored to lead a seminar on cooking for a crowd and I told the ladies in my seminar that I would post links to the products I talked about this morning, so here they are! Thank you all for allowing me to chat with you today and thank you for being such an interactive group!

Online resources

Food Network Recipes


Dinner for a crowd using spreadsheets A great resource to organize your thoughts digitally, rather than using a notebook.

Temperature Rules! A graphic for quick reference of proper cooking temperatures.

Prepare the perfect ham A breakdown of different hams, as well as tips for a successful ham.

Turkey recipe Alton Brown’s recipe that I’ve successfully used in the past.

Great tools to use in the kitchen

Ziplock bags – Use for more than just storage. Remember, you can also use them to protect printed recipes, phones or tablets that you might be using in the kitchen.

Kitchen timer app


Kitchen timer/leave in thermometer

Instant read thermometer

Silicone  basting brush

Immersion blender

Small prep bowls


Continue Reading

Ryker 3 Month Update

Wow! Where has the time gone? It seems like just a few days ago when I posted a few updates on Ryker at 7 weeks and now he is 3 months old! A lot has changed in the last several weeks as Ryker continues to grow and develop. We are starting to see his personality come out, he’s smiling more and more, and constantly bringing joy to his Mom and Dad’s hearts. We hope you enjoy some of the photos below from the past few weeks! Feel free to check out more over on our SmugMug site.



Continue Reading

Glazed Mini Meatloaves

Recently, I joined a meal exchange group with a few ladies from the area. I had thought on and off about starting a group in the past, but never got around to it in the craziness of life. When a friend sent out a message seeing who would be interested in being a part of a group, I got super excited and responded right away! If you don’t know what a meal exchange group is, here is an explanation of the basics. One thing that the ladies in my group are doing is posting links to their recipes in a shared document, the only slight problem I ran into when thinking of what recipe I was going to make,is the fact that a lot of my everyday recipes aren’t written down or in web format…I know, it’s a bad habit that I’ve slipped into, and one that has gotten way worse since I stopped working in the industry. So here is the first meal I’m going to make for the month of August, I’m sure there will be more posted in the coming months, so be on the lookout!

Glazed Mini Meatloaves

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 6

Delicious mini meatloaf that cooks up fast and contain a nice serving of vegetables that the kids will never notice.


  • 1/3 c. breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 c. milk/almond milk
  • 1 lg. egg
  • 1/4 c. ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 med. onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 c. carrots, finely chopped
  • 1/3 c. celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper, ground
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. ground beef (90/10)
  • 1/2 lb. ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp roasted granulated garlic
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder


  1. In a small bowl mix together breadcrumbs, milk, and egg; set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. While breadcrumb mixture is soaking, preheat oven to 350° F and whisk together glaze ingredients in a small saucepan, cooking on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve for glazing meatloaves in the last minutes of cooking.
  3. In a large bowl, combine breadcrumb mixture and all remaining ingredients, taking care not to overwork as this can result in a tough product. At this point, take a small amount of meatloaf mixture and cook in a skillet to taste for seasoning, adjust as needed.
  4. Form into 6-4 ounce oval loaves and place on a foil lined broiler pan. **If you are preparing this recipe to freeze, place raw formed loaves on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze. Once loaves have frozen completely, remove from freezer, place in a freezer zip top bag, label, and return immediately to freezer. For best product, do not keep raw loaves in freezer for longer than 6 months.
  5. In preheated oven, bake for 25-30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160° F. **If cooking from frozen, thaw loaves completely, or increase cooking time by 10-15 minutes.
  6. After internal temperature has reached 160° F coat loaves with glaze, return to oven and bake until temperature has reached 165° F and glaze is bubbly.


I use a food processor to finely chop the onion, carrots and celery, chopping each ingredient individually. This allows for a consistent chop that cooks more evenly in the oven.



Continue Reading

Ryker 7 Week Update

Ryker continues to grow leaps and bounds. We’ll have his 2 month check-up in just over two weeks from now. I’ll be really interested to hear how much weight he’s gained! He’s gotten on a relatively good schedule, eating about every 3 hours except at night where he’ll go about 6 – 7 hours between feeding. In the next week or so, we’ll be trying to get rid of that middle of the night feeding. I know LaBranda will be a whole lot more grateful about that, as she’s usually the one that gets up to feed him at 4am! Hope you enjoy a few recent photos!

Continue Reading
1 2 3 9