Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Cinnabon" Popcorn...holy cow delicious

This weekend we were invited to a friend's house for a cookout.  Since there were going to be several kids (a lot of them mine), I thought I'd make a fun snack.  I searched through some of my favorite food blogs, and ran across Cinnabon Popcorn from The Girl Who Ate Everything.  I've been wanting to make something like this, and decided this was the perfect opportunity.  It's good when I can take the goodies OUT of the house, so I won't eat it all!!  I've never made any type of candy/caramel popcorn before, but I have to say...this was SO good, and will be made again.
does this not look dee-wish-us?!

Chocolate "Cinnabon" Popcorn 
  • 12 C popped popcorn (about 1/2 C kernels or around 1 1/2 bags of microwave popcorn) **go here for how to make homemade microwave popcorn!
  • 1 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped   I omitted these since my 2 yr old is allergic to nuts
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup karo syrup (or honey makes a good substitution)
  • 1 stick real butter (1/2 cup)  I used Smart Balance 50/50 and it worked great!
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 squares almond bark (about 4 oz)  I used chocolate almond bark (b/c it's what I had on hand)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees

*You can use air popped or microwave popcorn.

Place popcorn and chopped pecans in a large bowl and set aside. *Use a bigger bowl than you think you need.

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a 2 liter capacity microwave safe bowl. Mix well. Chop butter into chunks and place on top of sugar mixture. Pour corn syrup over the top of everything. Microwave on high for 30 seconds and then stir to combine. Return to microwave and heat for 2 minutes. Remove and stir and then microwave for 2 minutes more. *If you microwave it too much your popcorn will turn out really hard.

Remove from microwave and add in vanilla and baking soda. Stir to combine. Mixture will foam and rise. Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and pecans and stir very well so everything is well coated. *STIR MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED TOO.

Spread popcorn mixture onto a foil-lined jelly roll pan. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and spread out on a large piece of parchment, waxed paper, or foil. *I just slid the foil from the jelly roll pan (w/popcorn on it) and let it sit on counter to cool

Melt almond bark according to package instructions. Drizzle over popcorn mixture. When almond bark is hardened and popcorn is cool, break into chunks and enjoy!

I say again, holy cow delicious!

I'm linking this recipe up at Eat at Home for Ingredient Spotlight: popcorn

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monte Cristo Sandwiches

It's Monday. Again. How does that happen so quickly? I didn't do anything too exciting over the weekend, just tried to regain some sanity.  I attempt to accomplish this by cleaning and organizing.  I know, weird right?  But I have found that my stress level increases in direct proportion with the increase in clutter.  Anyway, working on getting everything straight.  Especially since my girls are back in school - there are papers to keep up with, fundraisers to keep track of (fundraisers. ALREADY. Don't get me started on that one!)  Anyone want to buy wrapping paper?! 

I also like to relieve stress with a little retail therapy!!  It's probably not cheaper than a therapist, but way more fun.  This weekend was the Gap Give and Get Program - they allowed you to choose a non-profit (I, of course, chose The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) and then you could shop at Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic - save 30% on your purchases, and they would donate 5% to the non-profit you chose.  It rocks.  I posted about it earlier, so if you missed it, well, you missed it.  Because it's over.  So anyway, I went shopping at Old Navy.  Found lots of cute t-shirts and such for me and the kids.  Nothing for hubs.  Sorry honey.  XXLT is not a size to be found easily (or at all) at the Old Navy.

And next to shopping, my favorite way to relieve stress is drinking eating! I know, so not healthy.  Emotional eating is a whole other post.  To be done by someone other than me.  Because I want to share my eating.  And these are worth sharing......Monte Cristo Sammies!!  My sis came over for dinner, and fixed these awesome sandwiches. 
sis, cooking in cute outfit
making these!
They were awesome!

Monte Cristo Sandwiches

8 slices bacon
4 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg or ground
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter  we skipped the butta
8 thick cut sliced whole-grain soft bread, white, or challah  we used Focaccia
1/2 cup brown mustard
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
1/2 pound sliced Havarti cheese  we used sharp cheddar, b/c Havarti has WAY mo' fat!
1 pound sliced ham
1 pound sliced turkey breast
1 1/2 cups medium to dark amber maple syrup  we skipped the syrup, not a huge fan

  • Heat a griddle pan or large skillet over medium high heat. Cook bacon and remove to paper towels to drain. Drain off fat. 
  • Reheat griddle over medium heat. 
  • Beat eggs with milk, nutmeg and pepper. 
  • Add 1 tablespoon butter to the griddle or pan and melt. OR Spray griddle with non-stick spray. 
  • Dip 4 slices of bread in egg mixture, then add to griddle or pan. Turn bread after it browns, 2 to 3 minutes. 
  • Top 2 bread slices with mustard, the other 2 with cranberry sauce. Add 1 or 2 slices of cheese and bacon on the cranberry covered bread. Add ham, then turkey to the mustard covered bread. Use a spatula to assemble sandwiches and turn and press gently to set sandwiches in place. Repeat as needed (depending on the size of your pan, you will probably have to make in batches).
  • Heat syrup in microwave safe container for 30 seconds. Drizzle syrup over sandwiches at the table.  They were delicious without the syrup, but it's a personal preference.  
Recipe adapted from Rachel Ray 

We had a sweet and savory going on with the cranberry sauce and herbed focaccia.  mmmm.  For the kids...they basically had toasted ham and cheese.  bor-ring :-)


Linking up at Eat at Home

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday (Thank God) in 'Fotos'

Friday Fotos Folks, hee hee - I'm such a dork.  I've been slack in blogging this week, but it has been the week from H-E-Double L.  It started out the lowest of lows, but has ended with a fantastic high.  And NO, I've not been hittin' the wacky tobaccy (sp?)  Of course, had that been an option....just kidding (maybe).  It's been that crazy of a week.  Anyway, I plan to get it together for next week.  Hopefully.  You just never know.  But, I did want to share some pics that I took a week or so ago.  Because, as you know, I luuuv my garden.  (I know, it's kinda weird - but I've been fascinated that I can grow stuff.  and eat it)  Hope everyone has a Fabulous Friday and weekend!
 banana peppers
 (I realize you know what these are, but feel compelled to label my pics)
 green bell peppers
 jalapenos
(they're hiding in there somewhere)
Basil
(yes, it's super tall now - that's Number One, who's over 4 feet)
close up of the Basil (love it!)
 Grape (or as we call them "baby") Tomatoes
 carrots
some of them are quite freaky looking
apparently that's what happens when you grow them way too close together!

tomatoes
they didn't do very well
watermelon!
we've eaten 3 from one vine so far!
strawberries
these should do better next year, if they survive that long!

And you can't escape without at least one kid pic....
Mr. Two - chillaxin'
Which is what I'm hoping I can do this weekend!

Join me next week for Monte Cristo sandwiches with my sister!  Pepper relish (hopefully).  And crazy kid drama, fo' sho'.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Give and Get is Here!

Give and Get is Here!:
"Enjoy 30% off from August 26-29 at Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy and we'll donate 5% of what you spend to a non-profit."

PLEASE choose The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society!!!!! It's a win-win :) Save money and donate at the same time!

Help people like my Daddy and many, many others fight these horrible blood cancers.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

First Day of School and CSN review

I wonder how many blog posts began with the title 'First Day of School' today?!  My kids were not super excited.  On the outside.  But to be sure they were on the inside, right?!  How can you not be excited about the first day?  Especially 4th and 2nd grade.  They didn't wake up extra early, didn't seem to really care what outfits they wore, didn't take extra time on their hair (well, a little extra), they didn't wear brand new, bright, shiny tennis shoes (even though they have them).  I just don't get it.  What's changed?  They were pretty non-chalant.  EXCEPT, they did not eat hardly any breakfast...AHH HA!  I knew they were a little excited, and a little nervous.  Because kids don't pass this up for nothing.....
strawberries and chocolate chip biscuits
Looking at this picture of my plastic Wal-Mart bowl reminded me about a review I've been asked to do for CSN Stores.  If you have not seen them all over the blog-o-sphere, they are an online group of over 200 stores!!  A shopper's paradise.  And how I love to shop.  They have EVERYTHING...dinnerware, cookware, housewares, kid's stuff and the list goes on and on.  The picture reminded me that I REALLY need some more attractive dinnerware and more baking items.  I get to choose what item I'm going to review...but the problem so far is making a choice...I want everything!  Check 'em out - what would you choose?!

Anyway, back to breakfast...strawberries and chocolate chip biscuits.  Yum. 
My girls
I can't believe I have a 4th grader...I know we moms say it all the time - but it's so true - THEY GROW UP SOOOO FAST!!!  I hope they have a great day!  Because it's going to be hell getting them out-of-bed tomorrow if they didn't!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

the end of summer

so this is it.  the dog days of summer.  over.  done. 
school starts back tomorrow. back to the rushing, and schedules and homework.



God seems to be sending me a message....I sure hope he's getting mine.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

My sister has been talking about how delicious Orzo with Roasted Vegetables is for a while now.  I love orzo, but when I heard 'roasted vegetables' - I sort of thought "ewww".  However, if you've been reading my blog, you know that I have recently discovered that I actually like roasted vegetables.  So, I figured it was time to re-visit the recipe.  Especially since I still have...
I did not follow the recipe exactly, I just used what veggies I had on hand.  This is one of those recipes that you can change up quite a bit, depending on your likes (peppers) or dislikes (mushrooms).  I don't think there's any hope for mushrooms.  They just gross me out. 
Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

6-8 spears of asparagus, sliced in thirds
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced (I threw some banana peppers in there too)
1/2 red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, leave skin on while roasting
15-20 grape tomatoes
4 tbsp olive oil (divided)
Juice of 1-2 lemons, to taste
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1 cup orzo
2 green onions, sliced thin
1/4 cup reduced fat feta cheese
10 fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
For quick clean up, use a foil lined baking sheet, then spray with cooking spray. 
Toss the asparagus, bell peppers, onion and garlic with the olive oil, salt and pepper on the baking sheet.
Roast for 20 minutes then toss with a spatula, add the tomatoes and continue to the oven to roast for an additional 10 minutes.
While veggies are roasting, prepare the orzo per instructions on box.
Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. 
When vegetables are done, carefully squeeze the garlic from their skins and mix with orzo.
Add roasted vegetables to the orzo.
Combine lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper (to taste) and pour over orzo/vegetables. 
Add the green onions, feta cheese and basil. Toss to coat evenly.
I made Whole Wheat Beer Bread to go with it.  I heart bread products.  and beer.  Since I have discovered the Michelob Ultra Peach flavor (and love it), I thought I'd give it a try in the bread.  I also added cinnamon, to make kind of a sweet bread.  It was very good.  As in, I ate 1/2 a loaf in one evening good.  There's not much better than warm bread with a schmear of butta...mmmm...

So, I thought I was all that making this yummy, and very healthy meal. The hubs liked it, but the kids were less than impressed. They did like the bread however. They think I'm the craziest mother ever b/c I feed them things with beer in it. My mother-in-law would not approve. Anywho...the next night I had left overs and fixed these for the kids
They said I was the BEST cook EVER.  Kids are so easy.  Okay, not really, but this was a super easy recipe from Pillsbury.  I used Reduced Fat Grands biscuits and Cabot's 50% reduced fat cheese, and ham (without added nitrates and nitrites, of course - geesh, all the crap moms have to remember).  I highly recommend using reduced fat ham and cheese or when you bite into them you will get grease/"juice" running out.  ewww
So these little gems get 5 stars in my kids' book.  Guess I'll be making them more often.  Grands makes a reduced fat wheat biscuit that I'll use next time, but couldn't find them at my regular grocery store. (what else is new?)

I'm linking up with Finding Joy in My Kitchen

Sunday, August 22, 2010

questions regarding bone marrow donation

I had a question arise regarding my last post - can you donate if you are anemic (low iron)?  Which is a condition that I have just discovered about myself too!  The answer is YES!  In checking the medical guidelines at www.marrow.org you CAN register to be a bone marrow donor even if you are anemic, UNLESS, you have aplastic anemia. This is a much more serious and rare form of anemia where you are deficient in not only red blood cells, but all 3 types (red, white and platelets).  If you go to the website, click on Join, then go to Medical Guidelines, it should answer any questions you may have.  There are several guidelines, such as age, weight, and different medical conditions. Thanks to everyone for reading and considering my post! 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Today is my Dad's 59th birthday.  So, in honor of his special day (even though it's already posted on my blog) - I want to make everyone reading this aware of the importance of BONE MARROW DONATION!  You can go to http://www.marrow.org/ to learn more about becoming a donor, to register, and/or donate money.  (Donations are how the registry keeps it free for others too join, it helps pay for the cost of initial DNA testing).  The Be The Match organization also helps patients and their families with the financial burden of stem cell/bone marrow transplants. 

I also want to spread awareness that donating is not a painful procedure like it once was.  It is seldom that the doctors have to go into the bone and extract the actual marrow (it does occur sometimes, but I'm not sure under what circumstances).  They usually draw blood out (like when you donate blood), and filter out the stem cells.  The stem cells are then injected into the patient (like my dad) and they "find" their way to their new home in the marrow and set up shop.  They begin producing, so the patient begins growing healthy (donor) bone marrow.  It's actually quite amazing.
This is my Dad's nurse administering the stem cells!

My Dad was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) in October 2009.  He underwent several rounds of intensive chemotherapy, and had a stem cell transplant 72 days ago!  I can not tell you the number of blood products he received while getting chemotherapy, so I also encourage everyone to donate blood on a regular basis.

That's all I have to say about this today.  I'm off to spend time with my dad, on his birthday - thanks to an anonymous, generous soul who decided to join the national registry and be a donor.  We don't know who this person is, but whoever....WE LOVE YOU!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Frozen Hot Chocolate

My kids love hot chocolate (and who doesn't?!), so when I saw this recipe for frozen hot chocolate, I knew it would be a hit.  Plus, I really wanted to try it myself!  It's from Woman's Day Magazine, and they got it from Slim & Scrumptious by Joy Bauer.  It's a "slimmed-down" version with 150 calories and "virtually no fat".  Of course, I don't see where it gives a serving size.  I have to say it was pretty good.  It would be even better with dark chocolate syrup (which is now on my grocery list).
all dressed in their aprons, ready to go!

Ingredients
1/2 cup chocolate syrup
1 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups ice cubes
Garnish - reduced fat whipped topping and/or dark chocolate shavings

1. Combine chocolate syrup, evaporated milk, vanilla and ice in a blender until smooth.
2. Pour into glasses, garnish as desired.

we skipped the whipped topping (it's on the grocery list too)

The magazine listed some variations too, like for Mexican Hot Chocolate - 1/4 t. ground cinnamon
for Peppermint Hot Chocolate - sub 1/4 t. mint extract for vanilla

My kids were happy campers

until......

my 7 year old's tongue got stuck to the inside of our "freezer" cups.

yes, you read correctly - her tongue got stuck to the inside of the cup, which is metal.  It's like a mini ice cream maker...you put cold liquid in them and they have a plastic piece that you turn and turn to make a "slushy" type drink.  I thought the cups were really neat.  Never, not once, did it occur to me that one of my children's tongues would get stuck to the inside of it.

Oh, how I wish I had a picture of that.  But I couldn't stop laughing long enough to get the camera  my child was crying, and her tongue was stuck (I can't get the Christmas movie scene out of my head, when the kid's tongue gets stuck to the flagpole).  Anyway, I'm trying not to laugh and putting warm water on her tongue, which releases.  But.....I'm thinking to myself......why does stupid sh*t like this always happen?  Is it just me?  Anyway, learn from my mistakes people.  Teach your children not to stick their tongues on cold metal objects (which I thought we had covered at some point in the past...did she not watch the above mentioned movie?).  I know, it's MY fault for giving her the stupid cup in the first place.  But......hahahaha, OMG...it still makes me laugh.  Poor kid.  I won't tell you how she also fell into the bathtub yesterday....ok, I probably will...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

share a spoon - it's pie time!

When ~Zgirl over at Think Tank Momma said this weeks Share a Spoon (pop over to her site and link up!) was going to be P-I-E, I was super excited.  Because, you know, pie is awesome.  Blueberry, Cherry, Apple, Chocolate....the possibilities are endless.  And pie crust...flaky, yummy, full-of-fat deliciousness.  It's almost as good as chocolate.  I had a hard time deciding which recipe I wanted to post...but since it's still summer time (for a few more days), I ended up choosing  Cherry-Blueberry Pie!!  Yep, my two favorite fruit pies combined.  I usually pick blueberries at my Aunt's house every summer, and make this pie.  However, life has not been the same since my dad got sick, and I have not done lots of things I normally do.  But, I happen to have a couple of grainy cell phone pics from when my girls made this pie last summer - the recipe is very basic and simple enough for kids to make, yet very tasty!
The original recipe came from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

1 (15 ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts

1/2 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling

1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries (we used fresh)

for crust -

1 egg white

1 teaspoon water

2 teaspoons sugar

Directions

1.Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

2.Press one of the pie crusts into a 9 inch pie plate. In a large bowl, stir together 1/2 cup of sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon. Stir in the cherry pie filling and blueberries. Spoon into the pie crust. Top with the second crust, and press the edges to seal. Flute edges, or press with the tines of a fork. In a cup, whisk together the egg white and water with a fork. Brush over the top of the pie, then sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of sugar.

3.Bake for 45 to 55 minutes in the preheated oven, or until crust is golden brown. Cover the edges of the crust with aluminum foil if they appear to be getting too dark. Cool for at least 2 hours to allow the filling to set before serving.
And if you are into cheesecake...check out my posts here and here.  The low-carb nut crust is FABulous.  And my 9 y/o daughter made a no-bake Oreo cheesecake here!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

kids cooking - cinnamini buns!

Not to be confused with BK's i'm-going-to-kill-you ciniminis, which "weigh" in at 490 calories, 18 g of fat (7g sat. fat), 20mg cholesterol, and 39g sugar.  (per serving, which is 4 little mini buns!!) They also contain eggs.  Which won't work for my little allergy boy.  I don't know the exact nutritional info on the ones my girls made, but it works out to be about 2 g of fat each...so 8 g compared to BK's 18g for 4.
This was a b-day present from my Mom and Dad
 This is one of the super simple yummy recipes my girls picked out.
These are my girls hard at work preparing breakfast!

As you can see from the first pic...the end result turned out pretty well!

Cinnamini Buns from Favorite Brand Name Recipes Simple 1-2-3 Kids
2 T. packed brown sugar
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 can (8 oz) refrigerated crescent roll dough (we used reduced fat)
1 T. melted butter (we used Smart Balance 50/50)

The recipe also called for 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1 T. milk for a glaze to drizzle over them.
 However, I had just made some brown sugar cinnamon cream cheese - so we used that instead!
 I love flavored cream cheese on my (whole wheat) bagel (thins), but the only fat free cream cheese I can find around here are the plain and strawberry flavors.  Why I haven't thought of making my own before, i don't know...but, it's super simple.  I decided to mix brown sugar and cinnamon to fat free cream cheese (softened then whipped together).  I'm still playing with the ratios...this was 3 T. brown sugar to 1 t. cinnamon, but I'll probably add more cinnamon!  I think I'll use some Stevia next time too.  And maybe make some with blueberries!!  Yum...

So anyway, just planning on enjoying these last few days before we have to be back on a schedule, with mad rushing to get ready for school in the morning, rushing to get homework done, so we can rush to extracurriculurs.  Oh, summer - sweet summer time, where have you gone?  And wish me luck today, as it looks like I'll be cleaning up piss all day working on potty-training, since my little man refused decided he did not want to wear a diaper today.  He's in big boy pants...boxer briefs - they are so freakin' cute!  Until they are saturated in pee.  Yep, the life of a mom is glam-or-ous.  And only a mom can (or would) talk about cinnamon buns and piss in the same post!  sorry folks.  this is my life.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Post It Note Tuesday!

Check out Supah Mommy to grab your linky button and post-it!












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