Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Crunch



I have been a bad, bad blogger!! It's been over a month since my last post. The past month has flown by quickly. My husband and I celebrated our first anniversary and we got the keys to our first home. I didn't want to end up on the naughty list this year so I have been busy whipping up some treats for Santa over the weekend.  

I was looking for a holiday Chex mix recipe and came across a picture from Utah Deal Diva's blog. I love a recipe that only has 3 ingredients!! I was going to purchase candy canes and crush them in the blender but I came across a bag of crushed candy canes at Walgreens! Score!!

Ingredients:
6 cups - corn Chex
12 oz - white chocolate bark
1/3 cup - crushed candy canes

Cover a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper. Follow the directions on the package to melt the white chocolate bark in a large bowl. Add Chex cereal to the bowl and coat evenly. Spread cereal out onto the cookie sheet and sprinkle the crushed candy canes over the top. 

It takes about 20 minutes for the chocolate to set. Break up cereal and store in a airtight container. 


This is a super fast and easy treat to throw together for a last minute gift for a friend or neighbor. 


Enjoy!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pumpkin Pocket Pies



Aren't pocket pies just the best? They are the perfect single serving size and they have just a little more crust then filling which is perfect for me because I love the crust! During Valentine’s Day, I posted a chocolate pocket pie recipe that was pretty tasty and in honor of fall I wanted to bake up some pumpkin pocket pies.

I searched and searched and searched some more but I couldn’t find a recipe. I found recipes where people took a baked pumpkin pie and used the inside for filling in the pocket pies and I found a couple forums where people said that a traditional pumpkin pie filling was to runny and would just seep out. I was getting ready to forgo my attempt and make apple pies instead but then I came across Joy the Baker and she had posted a recipe for pumpkin poptarts!! Very clever of her! The filling works perfectly inside the pie crust and the coarse sanding sugar sprinkled on top gives each bite a little added crunch.

Ingredients:
2 store-bought pie crusts
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar or 5 ½ Tbls of Splenda Baking Blend
1 egg white

In a small sauce pan, combine pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice and heat until fragrant about 3-5 mins on medium heat. Remove from heat and transfer to a medium sized mixing bowl. Whisk in egg, salt and sugar and place in the refrigerator while you cut out the dough.

Unroll the store bought crust onto a pastry board and go over it a few times with a rolling pin (I didn't use any flour on the board or rolling pin but you may need to if it is sticky). 

Using a pocket pie mold, cut out 16 of each shape (8 solid and 8 with the decorative cutout). Re-roll the dough scraps, if necessary, and cut out more shapes. Repeat with the remaining dough disk. If you don't have a fancy pocket pie cutter than use a cookie cutter and seal the edges with a fork.

Place a solid dough shape in the bottom half of the cutter and gently press the dough into the mold. Fill the center with 2 Tbs. filling and brush the edges of the dough with some of the egg white. Top with a shape with a decorative cutout. Press the top half of the cutter down to seal and crimp the edges of the pie. Remove the pie from the mold and place on a wax paper lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Brush the top of the pie with egg white and sprinkle coarse sanding sugar on top. Freeze the pies for 30 minutes.





Bake pies on parchment paper or a greased cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 22-25 minutes.


Enjoy!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Storing Canned Pumpkin

During the months of October and November I'm always inclined to bake with pumpkin, however, I started encountering an annoying problem. The recipes I used never called for a full can of pumpkin! I checked out the label on the can of Libby's pumpkin and it said that pumpkin can be stored in the refrigerator for one week but that's a lot of pressure! The can also says that it can be stored in the freezer for three weeks.


Last week, I made some pumpkin pocket pies that called for 3/4 cup of pumpkin. I decided that I was going to freeze the rest of the can but I wanted to have it frozen in 1/4 cup portions. I lined a cookie sheet with parchment paper and scooped 1/4 cup servings onto the tray. I flash frozen the scoops for about 45 mins and than I moved them to a large freezer bag. 


Ta-da!! Problem solved, one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind!





Saturday, November 5, 2011

Jambalaya (Slow Cooker)



This was the best jambalaya I have ever had!! It is also the only jambalaya I have ever had. There aren't too many place in California that serve up jambalaya so I've always wanted to try to make my own. I knew my husband would be on board since he loves anything that has sausage in it!


If you follow my blog, you know I love a slow cooker recipe that doesn't take long to prep and doesn't require any browning. This recipe went together really fast! I chopped my meat the night before so all I had to do was dump in all the ingredients when I came home for lunch. 


I'll give you a general warning that this is spicy! If your family isn't into heat, you can omit or cut the cayenne pepper in half and it should only have a mild heat at that point. 


Recipe makes about 4 servings and was adapted from Plain Chicken

Ingredients:
1 chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 links of Italian sausage, sliced into 2 inch slices
1-28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1/4 cup diced onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chicken broth
2 tsps dried oregano
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1-1/2 cups un-cooked rice (I used Uncle Ben's Original Converted Rice)
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined and the tales off


Directions:
Combine all the ingredients except the shrimp and rice in the slow cooker and give it a good stir. Cook on low for 5 hours. 


Add rice and shrimp and cook on high for about 30-45 mins longer, until the rice is tender. 


I served my jambalaya with cheddar biscuits and it was a perfect meal!


Enjoy!









Sunday, October 23, 2011

Candy Corn Cupcakes


Candy Corn Cupcakes

Just in time for Halloween!! These cupcake start boxed cake mix with a few modifications to the ingredients and end with homemade buttercream!

Each bite is super moist with just the right amount of sweetness!

This recipe is adapted from Our Best Bites

Cupcake Ingredients:
1 white cake mix
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Decorations: yellow & red food coloring, candy corns and Halloween sprinkles


Frosting Ingredients:
1 cup un-salted butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners.

Mix cake mix, eggs, sour cream, milk and oil until combined. Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes.

Divide batter in half and color one half orange and the other half yellow. I used McCormick Food Coloring. For the yellow batter, I used 50 drops of yellow food coloring and for the orange batter, I used 50 drops of yellow and 18 drops of red.

Start filling liners with 1 heaping tablespoon of orange batter. Then top with 2 tablespoons of yellow batter. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Let cupcakes cool, remove paper and decorate with a buttercream frosting, candy corn and sprinkles. Makes about 18 cupcakes.




In a mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue creaming until well blended. Add salt, vanilla, and whipping cream. Blend on low speed until moistened. Beat at high speed until frosting is fluffy. 





Happy Halloween!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Black & White Halloween Wreath



This Fall I'm on a mission to craft on a budget!! So far, I have only spent $15 which includes 3 pumpkins. I only spent $2.00 to make this wreath!




I purchased the wreath form at the dollar store along with the ribbon. I made use of  newspaper, paint, paintbrush and glue that I had at home. I also used a scalloped circle punch to cut the newspaper but any shape can be used. 



My first step was to paint the wreath black before adhering any newspaper. Honestly, I would skip this step because I went back over it and filled in any spots that were showing through. Next, I went through and punched circles from 3 days worth of newspapers. I was so surprised and how much of the paper is in color these days so that is why it took so many newspapers. 




To adhere the newspaper, I wrapped each circle around the end of a pencil and dipped it in Elmer's glue and held it to the form for about 10 seconds. After covering almost half the wreath I started feeling like it was getting a little tedious. From start to finish it took me about 1 hour total. After covering the entire wreath, I flipped it over and let it sit for an hour before attaching letters that I cut out with the Cricut. 


I was really happy with how the wreath turned out! For $2.00, you can't beat it. This wreath can be dressed up with any Halloween embellishments. I think it would also look cute with some glittery bats, spiders or a witch's hat. 

Happy Halloween!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fiesta Chicken (Slow Cooker)


Sometimes I find it hard to take good pictures for the blog when a meal is smelling so good, I'm starving and my husband is waiting at the table to eat... This was one of those time. I really feel bad for the chicken because this picture does not give it any justice. The chicken turned out very flavorful and moist. It also re-heated great for leftovers the next day. 


I live in California where Mexican food is a staple. We turn anything we can into a taco or a burrito. This chicken can easily be combined with rice to make a Chipotle-style burrito bowl or throw it into a tortilla and add your favorite topping for a tasty taco. 


Another great thing about this recipe is that you can throw it together before you head to work. There is not browning required and there is minimal chopping needed. 


Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts
1-16 oz jar of salsa
1-15 oz can of black beans, drained
1/2 lb frozen corn
1 Tbls chili powder
1/2 Tbls cumin (essential for true Mexican flavor)
1/2 Tbls minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried oregano 
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper


Optional Toppings:
Grated cheese, sour cream, diced onion or chopped cilantro


Directions:


Add all the ingredients, except the toppings, to the slow cooker. Give it a good stir to combine. Make sure the chicken is completely covered and close the lid. Cook on low for 8 hours. 


After 8 hours, remove the lid and use two forks to shred the chicken. Stir thoroughly and serve!


Enjoy!



Sunday, October 2, 2011

Halloween Oreo Pumpkin Cheesecakes


Fall is in the air and Halloween is right around the corner!! We finally got some cool weather in our area and I had the overwhelming urge to break out the PUMPKIN! 


This recipe was really easy to throw together and would be a fun family recipe.


This recipe is from Laren's Latest with only a few changes


Tools Needed:
Muffin pan
Cupcake liners
Mixer
Sandwich bag
Toothpick


Ingredients:
1-8 oz. package cream cheese, softened (reduced fat cream cheese can be used)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
pinch of salt
12 Halloween Oreos
1/4 cup chocolate chips 



Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees



Line 12 muffin tins with cupcake liners. Place 1 oreo in the bottom of each cup. Set aside. 


In large bowl, whip cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Stir in vanilla, pumpkin, egg, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour and salt until combined. Scrape sides of bowl and whip mixture until completely smooth. 


Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the mixture over oreos. Bake 25-30 minutes or until cheesecakes have set. Remove from oven to cool. Once cheesecakes are cool enough to handle, remove from muffin tin. Remove paper wrappers. 




Microwave chocolate chips in a sandwich bag in 10-20 second increments until completely melted. Once melted cut the tip off the corner of the bag and pipe melted chocolate in 3 circles on top of cheesecakes. Drag the end of a toothpick through the chocolate to create a spiders web look. Repeat with remaining cheesecakes. Refrigerate until ready to serve.



Happy Fall!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Brownie Cookies



I love getting and giving homemade items! One of my dear friends celebrated her birthday this week and when I asked her what kind of cookies she would want she said "Well, I love chocolate in any form!" As soon as she said that, I knew that I wanted to make this recipe!


I found this recipe on Pinterest, it is from a blog called Pure and Yummy. I real like that you didn't have to plan ahead for this recipe. You didn't have to bring butter to room temp or chill dough in the refrigerator. 


These cookies are really, really rich! And pack BIG chocolate flavor. Get ready for your home to smell like the Hershey's factory.



Brownie Cookies
½ cup butter
4 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3 cups (18 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Combine butter, unsweetened chocolate, and 1 ½ cups chocolate chips in a large heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until butter and chocolate melt; let cool.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl, set aside.
Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla at medium speed with an electric mixer. Gradually add dry ingredients to egg mixture, beating well. Then add the chocolate mixture and beat well. Stir in remaining 1 ½ cups chocolate chips.
Scoop dough onto baking sheets 1 inch appart. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool slightly on baking sheets; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Enjoy!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Thai Shrimp Pasta

This recipe is a keeper!! It uses ingredients that I always have on hand and it comes together super fast which tonight made it an all-star. Our original plan was to throw some steaks on the grill but we were out of propane, ugh, hate when that happens!! Luckily, I was able to throw this together in a pinch. I was a little worried my husband was not going to like it since it is a little out of our normal taste profile but he thought it was great!


Recipe adapted from AllRecipes.com


Ingredients:
1 pound of thawed shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 ounces of angel hair pasta
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 Tbls cilantro
1 Tbls chunky or creamy peanut butter
1 Tbls honey
1 Tbls soy sauce
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup carrots, cut into matchsticks
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 Tbls of peanut oil or vegetable oil 


In a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions, before draining throw shrimp in for 1-2 minutes until pink. 


Heat oil in a skillet to medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots and garlic, saute until softened. 


In a small bowl combine and whisk broth, cilantro, peanut butter, honey, soy sauce and red pepper flakes.


After draining, pour shrimp and pasta back into the large pot. Add in the veggies and stir in the sauce.


That's it!! It's that simple.


Enjoy!







Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chicken Pockets



These chicken pockets were fast and easy to put together and ended up being very tasty. As a plus, my husband enjoyed heating the leftovers up during the week for lunch - Score!!!


The original recipe was called Chicken Pillows but I thought that sounded weird so I changed it to Chicken Pockets. This recipe makes enough for 8 pockets. We each ate one pocket with some steamed broccoli for supper and found it filling.  

Recipe adapted from the-girl-who-ate-everything

Ingrediants:
4 oz of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup of sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3/4 Tablespoons fresh chives
3/4 Tablespoons fresh onion minced

2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced (around 2 cups) 
2 (8 ounce) cans Pillsbury crescent rolls
1/4 cup melted butter
Italian Panko crumbs (around 2 cups)



Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 


Mix together cream cheese and sour cream. Stir in salt, pepper, chives, onion and diced chicken.



Using Pillsbury crescent rolls, take 2 triangular rolls and push together at perforated seam to make into a square. Make sure you seal the perforations well so your filling doesn't come out. Put about 3 tablespoons of chicken mixture in the center of each square. Fold the dough corners to the center over the chicken mixture forming a pocket.

Dip each pillow in melted butter on both sides. Roll in bread crumbs on both sides. Shake excess crumbs off. Place chicken pocket on a ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. If needed change oven to broil on high for 2 minutes until golden brown. 

This recipe is a keeper for fast and easy weeknight meals!

Enjoy!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Garlic Cheesy Bread


Last week, I posted a recipe for minestrone soup. The soup was delicious and to make the meal extra special I paired it with pizzeria-style garlic cheesy bread. The bread is made on homemade pizza dough and maybe even better than anything I've had at a pizza parlor!!


Recipe adapted from laurenslatest.com

Pizza Dough Ingredients:
1 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey or sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups bread flour 



Bread Topping:
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1-1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
salt & pepper, optional



Directions:
In a bread maker, in this order add, water, oil, honey, flour, sea salt and yeast. Set bread maker to make 1 lb of pizza dough. This will take approx. 1 hr and 40 mins. 


Preheat oven to 500 degrees 


Here was a great tip from Lauren's blog - if you don’t have a pizza stone, use an upside down cookie sheet.

Melt butter and garlic in a sauce pan and set aside.

Divide dough in half and roll half the dough into a 12-inch circle on parchment paper. See instructions below for freezing the other half of the pizza dough.

Spread the butter and garlic mixture over dough and top with parmesan and mozzarella cheeses. Top with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper, if desired.

Bake until the cheese is bubbly, about 8-10 mins. 

Freezing dough - punch down dough and place in a freezer safe bag with a 1/2 tbls of olive oil. Allow dough to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Place dough in a glass bowl a couple hours before use. As the dough comes to room temperature it will rise. The dough will keep for about a week to 10 days in the freezer after that the yeast starts deteriorating

Enjoy!!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Slow Cooker Minestrone


I love soup but I don't always have the time to make it. This slow cooker recipe is perfect for a busy day!

Ingredients:

·                     1/2 onion, chopped
·                     1 cup carrots, chopped
·                     1 celery stalk, chopped
·                     2 garlic cloves, minced
·                     1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
·                     1 (15 oz) can garbanzo or kidney beans, drained, rinsed 
·                     3 cups fat free chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarians)
·                     1 oz chunk of good Parmesan cheese rind
·                     2 bay leaves
·                     2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
·                     1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
·                     salt and fresh pepper
·                     1 medium zucchini, chopped
·                     2 cups chopped fresh or frozen (defrosted) spinach
·                     2 cups of small pasta

In a crock pot, combine broth, tomatoes,  beans, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, herbs, Parmesan cheese rind, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Forty minutes before the soup is done cooking, add zucchini, pasta, and spinach.  Remove bay leaves, rosemary sprig, parmesan rind and season to taste with salt and black pepper.



It was such a welcoming aroma to come home and smell this soup bubbling away!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Homemade Salsa

We live in California and eat a ton of Mexican food. I love salsa but had a hard time finding a store bought brand that tasted fresh like the salsa at our favorite restaurant. After lots of research and practice I finally got the recipe right!

Ingredients:
3 roma tomatoes
4 green onions
1 jalapeno pepper
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of cilantro
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt

Today I'm making salsa to take to a pool party so I am tripling my recipe. I start out by wiping all the vegetables with a damp cloth and placing them on a pre-heated grill on a medium-high heat. I only use 2 cloves of garlic for the recipe but I always throw an extra one on the grill just in case one slips through the grates.

After about 7 mins, flip the vegetables over and continue to roast for about 7 more mins.
After grilling the veggies for a total of about 15-20 mins, I set them aside for about 15 mins until they are cool enough to handle.
Cut the tips off of four green onions and two cloves of garlic. Place them into a food processor equipped with a chopping blade or a blender.


Depending on your tolerance to heat, you can remove some spice by deveining and seeding the roasted jalapeno. To do this, cut the top off the jalapeno and make a horizontal cut. Open up the jalapeno and  use a knife to scrap the veins and seeds out of the pepper. Place the pepper into the food processor and mince with the onion and garlic.

Next add the tomaotes, cilantro, lemon juice and about a 1/4 tsp of salt (more can be added to taste) and puree in the food processor.
This tasty salsa will keep in the fridge for about 2 week in a sealed container.

As a side note, this salsa pairs perfectly with a warm summer evening and a margarita!!


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Monogrammed Wall Art

I made these monogrammed canvas's as a birthday gift for Chase to hang on his bedroom wall. He had just turned 3, so I really wasn't sure if I would appreciate or even like the gift. Boy, was I wrong!! He was so excited! He was ready to go and hang them up right then and there!

I really enjoyed working on this project. It was pretty easy but did take a couple of days to complete.

Tools Needed:
Canvas
Fabric
Staple gun
Paint
Paint brush
Paper
Adhesives
Mod Podge

I started by ironing the fabric and laying it face down. Then I laid the canvas on top of the fabric and cut around it leaving about 1.5 inches of overhang on all sides of the canvas. To secure the fabric, I used a staple gun and stapled the fabric to the back of the frame making sure to keep it pulled tightly.

I bought white wooden letters from Michael's and then I painted them using acrylic paints. As a warning the red paint took about 8 coats!! I let the letters dry over night before starting to embellish them.

I used a Cricut to cut out the circles and stars and I also cut coordinating strips of paper to make the "plaid" embellishment. I used regular craft glue to adhere the cardstock to the wood. After letting the letters dry for a couple of hours, I sealed everything in using Mod Podge and let them dry overnight.

To adhere the wooden letters to the fabric covered canvas, I used industrial strength adhesive that I purchased from the hardware store. The package listed wood and fabric and a 900 lb weight limit. It felt like the letters were pretty sturdy after letting them dry over night. My project was finally complete!!

The stars were a big hit with Chase, who likes to reffer to himself as Super Chase!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Peanut Butter Mousse Brownie Pie

My father-in-law is a huge fan of peanut butter and chocolate so for our Father's Day celebration I wanted to make something that I knew he would LOVE!


Peanut Butter Mousse Brownie Pie
Recipe by Paula Deen


Ingredients:
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 box chewy fudge brownie mix
1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 cups thawed whipped topping


Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Following the directions on the pie crust package place the un-baked crust into a 9" pie pan.
In a large bowl, prepare brownie mix according to package directions.
Pour mix into the un-baked pie crust and bake for 30-35 mins. Let cool for 20 mins before refrigerating for at least an hour. 
In a medium bowl, beat peanut butter and cream cheese on a medium speed until creamy. Gradually, add in confectioners' sugar until well  combined. Stir in whipped topping. Spoon mixture over brownie and refrigerated for at least 4 hours up to 3 days. 


Baker's notes:

  • The edge of my pie crust was almost burnt so I would suggest checking it and covering the edge with aluminum foil to avoid this from happening. 
  • Honestly, I felt that the pie crust didn't add much to the recipe and next time I'm going to just ice brownies or brownie bites with this delicious peanut butter frosting. 
  • I used low-fat cream cheese and whipped topping 
  • Topping suggestions: chocolate curls, mini reeses or large reeses cut in half or ground peanuts.