Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bite Me!

hehehe  I couldn't resist.  How cute is this?

Want something you can really bite into?  How about this...
Homemade caramel apples

I made these with the kids yesterday, and they got quite creative in their decorating.
Can you guess who made the one covered in chocolate?  And it was 'da bomb baby!!!

I have never made caramel before.  In previous years I either used the caramels from a bag, or the caramel "wraps" and they never worked all that great.  This year, when I came across this recipe I thought I'd give it a try.  I was a little worried, b/c anything involving a candy thermometer makes me nervous.
However, I have to say, this was pretty darn easy.  I just followed the directions (it happens, occasionally) and even in my severely sleep deprived state, this was the best caramel I've ever eaten!!  I could have let it cool just a little bit more before dipping the apples in, and it wouldn't have pooled quite as much at the bottom of the apple, but my kids enjoyed eating all the caramel off the pan!  They also ate just as many sprinkles/decorations as they used on their apples.

I will definitely be making my own caramel from now on!



6 - 8 small apples, unwaxed, cold  *Granny Smith's are really good

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup honey

Special equipment: candy thermometer, and lollipop sticks

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. *or tin foil since that's all I had!

Push a lollipop or popsicle stick deep into each apple - in through the stem.

Fill a large bowl 1/2 full with ice water and set aside.

In a medium, thick-bottomed saucepan heat the cream and salt until tiny bubbles start forming where the milk touches the pan - just before a simmer. Stir in the honey. Bring the mixture to a boil. Now reduce the heat to an active simmer and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 15-20 minutes minutes or until the mixture reaches about 255-260F degrees. To stop the caramel from cooking, very, very carefully set the bottom of the saucepan in the bowl of cold water you prepared earlier - taking special care not to get any of the water in the caramel mixture. Stir until caramel begins to thicken up - you want the caramel to be thin enough that it will easily coat your apples, but not so thin that it will run right off. If the caramel thickens too much simply put the pot back over the burner for 10 seconds or so to heat it up a bit.

I tilt my sauce pan so all the caramel forms a pool on one side, and use my other hand to dunk and twirl each apple until it is thoroughly coated with caramel. Place each apple on the parchment lined baking sheets and allow the caramel to cool and set.

Makes 6 - 8 caramel apples.

HaPpY HaLLoWeEn!!!


I'm linking this up at Eat at Home for ingredient spotlight - honey!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Giveaway WINNER :D

First, I want to thank everyone who entered my first giveaway!  It was a lot of fun seeing all the comments.  And I'll get right to it........the winner by random drawing is........

 Alexis AKA MOM from Running Away? I'll help you pack.

Congrats!!  I will be sending your email to Jocelyn at CSN Stores so that she can send you your $35.00 gift code!  Thank you so much for participating.

I hope everyone has a great weekend and safe Halloween.  I was away from blogland all day Friday due to Mr. Two having asthma issues and having to go to the doctor.  Hopefully, with his truck load of new medicines and my empty wallet, that he will get better soon.  Anyone have a pharmacy gift card giveway going on?!  That's one I need!  I can't believe how much some of these medications are.  Of course, I shouldn't complain, since ONE of my Dad's cancer meds is $5000.00 for a month supply.  Yes, you read that right.  So, we should all be grateful for what we have, b/c someone else has ALWAYS got it worse.

Now, time for me to down more coffee and try to get through the day.  The steroids they gave Mr. Two kept him up (therefore, me as well) ALL NIGHT LONG.
Later peeps.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

SaS - Halloween treats!

The Share a Spoon theme this week is Halloween!!!  Yay!  You know I love any holiday that is centered around candy :)  Head over to Think Tank Momma to link up and check out the other spooktacular treats!  I'm posting late today, but time is passing me by so fast I just can't keep up! 

I can NOT believe it is already the end of October!  How did this happen?!  Every year I make caramel apples with my kids around Halloween.  I let them "decorate" their apples in whatever goodies they want....usually tons of sprinkles and such.  This year, we haven't gotten to it.  As a matter of fact, we haven't gotten to hardly any of the treats I wanted to do!  However, one thing I thought looked fun and the kids would like is Halloween Candy Bark.  AND it's super easy.  Bonus.

 Step One - melt white chocolate and milk/dark chocolate
 Swirl it together
Stick whatever candy you want on top!
How cool does that look?
Let it cool completely then break into pieces.

For the actual recipe, click here.  There are tons of others out there as well.  The kids thought it was super cool.  And of course, I'm awesome b/c I had it waiting for them when they got home from school.  Coolest. Mom. Ever.  For about 5 minutes.

We also made these.
 Brownies, with 'Ghostmallows' on top :)  And chocolate chips.  And toffee chips.
 Which the kids decided needed lots of Halloween sprinkles.  Because everything is mo'betta with sprinkles.
They weren't all that great to look at, but when I let the kids have a spoon and we ate right out of the pan....how happy do they look?!  Ignore the dirty casserole dish from dinner.
**Note - I used a box brownie mix, subbed the oil for applesauce and flax seed/water for the egg which decreased the ass-enhancing capabilities of the brownies.  Of course, then we covered them in marshmallows ;)

Make sure you've entered my giveaway!!  Tomorrow night is the deadline for $35 gift code to use at csn stores!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday from the Pumpkin Farm

 Mr. Terrible Two found the pumpkin he wanted!  He tried his best to pick it up.

 This is my pumpkin, my husband thought it was the ugliest one on the farm.
I think it has character.

The hubs with all our pumpkins and all the kids (plus one)!

I'm linking up with A Beautiful Mess for Wordless Wednesday!  Hop on over and link up!  You can also link up here!

**edit**  Forgot to remind everyone about my GIVEAWAY!!  Go enter, you have until Friday!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

Two posts in one day...Mo's got it goin' on!  Not really, but I really wanted to share this Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal.  Yes, I said oatmeal!  Don't stop reading.  You should try this, it's warm, cinnamon-y (that's a word, right?!) and just wraps you in a blanket of warmth and comfort.  It's perfect comfort food.  And it's good for you.  Always a bonus.
I'm linking up with Tasty Tuesdays hosted by A Beautiful Mess, so head over to check out more yumminess or to link up and share your own recipes!

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches

1 c old fashioned oats (+ water or milk for cooking)

1/2 c pureed pumpkin

2 t cinnamon

1 large pinch nutmeg

1 pinch cloves

2 T maple syrup

yogurt & toasted walnuts (optional)

Prepare oatmeal on stovetop or in the microwave according to package directions.  When most of the liquid has been absorbed, and oats are soft, add in the pumpkin, spices and maple syrup. Give everything a stir. Divide mixture into 2 bowls and top with yogurt and walnuts, if desired.

-OR- The Mo'Betta Way

Before going to bed, add 3 cups water to 1 cup oats to your crock-pot.  Set to low, and let cook overnight.  In the morning, add your pumpkin and spices!  Super easy and super delicious.  My advice is to spray your crockpot or liners with cooking spray as it will stick.

Next time I will increase the pumpkin to one cup b/c the cinnamon is pretty strong.  If you don't love cinnamon, you may want to reduce it to 1 teaspoon.  Enjoy!

I'm linking this recipe up at 

PINT - random notes

It's Tuesday....so you know what that means.  It's Post it Note Tuesday time...time to stick 'em with That One Mom.  Head over to link up and share the sticky love. (ok, that sounds kinda nasty....but you know what I mean!)








That's it for now...got to head out in the rain to see if I can find those Halloween costumes!  Number One wants to be a hippie - I think I've got that one covered.  Number Two wants to be a dead cheerleader.  What?!  She used to want to be a princess or a sweet witch, what happened?!  It creeps me out.  And Mr. Terrible Two...I have no idea!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Kiss my (Shrimp and) Grits

Shrimp and grits is one of my favorite things, but I've only attempted to make it myself one time.  And it was...fair.  When I saw this post from Joy the Baker, I knew I had to try again.  I wasn't sure if I could pull it off after my last attempt was so....you know, fair.  But decided to give it a go.  I loved the simplicity of her recipe, b/c that's how I like my scrimps.  Not a lot of fanfare is needed for the good ole Southern dish.  and...if you are not familiar with Miss Joy the Baker, you should go check her blog out immediately - it's FABULOUS!!!!  I've gained 5 lbs just following her posts. 

I made just a couple of changes.  And what can I say, besides...this was O-M-G delicious!!!  First of all, I didn't have any bacon, so I used this
and this is my new favorite sausage!!  Even the kids loved it!  It has the best flavor.

 Recipe - adapted from Joy the Baker (and she has way more awesome pictures)

4 cups water


1 cup stone ground grits (also known as polenta) *whatever, just not instant :)

salt and pepper

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter *Smart Balance Light

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined without the tails

6 slices bacon  *al fresco apple maple chicken sausage

4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice *or, if you thought you had fresh lemon, and you start cooking and realize you don't, well, lemon juice from the bottle works.  This may have happened to me.

2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped

1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions

1 large garlic clove, minced

Bring water to a boil. Add grits to the boiling water while whisking to prevent clumps. Add a bit of salt and pepper. Lower heat, bring to simmer and cover until water is absorbed. Follow the directions on your box of grits or polenta. Cooking times vary. Once thick, remove from heat and stir in butter and shredded cheese.

Rinse and pat shrimp dry. Cook the sausage in a large skillet. When cooked through remove from the pan and add shrimp into the grease pan (I had very little grease from chicken sausage, but it was fine). Cook until shrimp turn pink. Add lemon juice, sausage, scallions, garlic and parsley. Cook for another three minutes.

Spoon the grits into a serving bowl and top with shrimp mixture. Serve immediately.

yummmmm! This dish went faster than any I've cooked in a while.  Next time I'll need to double the recipe!  It was also great that even though ALL the kids didn't like ALL the ingredients, they could pick and choose and get a decent meal out of it! 

And if you haven't entered my giveaway, you still have time!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sausage Casserole - Mo'Betta style

My mother-in-law makes a sausage casserole that is pretty delicious.  Sausage, cheese, pasta...what's not to like?!  Well, saturated fat, calories, for starters.  So, I decided to give her recipe a makeover. 
taaa daaaaa
This is what I came up with.

It was very good, even the kids ate it!  Which is always a shocker - makes me get on the phone immediately and call my mom.  I wonder if she gets tired of hearing every little detail of mine and the kids life.  Does anyone else talk to their mom everyday?

So anyway---the recipe!  Original from my MIL, my changes are in italics

Sausage Casserole

1 lb. sausage      1/2 lb. Jimmy Dean Reduced Fat Sausage & 1/2 lb. ground turkey
*time saver tip - I cooked a pound of each, then used the other half  for pizza that I posted the other day!
1/2 c. chopped onion   *sometimes I add this, sometimes I don't
16 oz. tomato sauce
1/2 t. basil
2 c. cooked macaroni (I was confused by this, so I cooked 2 cups of macaroni - which ends up being like 6 cups!  But it worked out fine...) *Whole wheat macaroni
8 oz. mozzarella cheese *part-skim of course

Cook the sausage and ground turkey with onion if using, set aside.  Cook macaroni, drain.  Mix all the ingredients together, using half the cheese to top the casserole.  I baked it at 350 degrees until nice and bubbly.
YUM :-)  As you can see, I went all out on the side dishes....cut up carrots and store-bought Foccacia bread!  *Money saving tip - you can buy bread from the clearance rack in the bakery section and freeze it!  I took this foccacia loaf straight from the freezer, wrapped it in foil and let it warm in the oven...you never knew it was frozen!

Linking up with..... Taste and Tell

Don't forget to enter my giveway!!  Ends Friday!
Giveaway now closed.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My first giveaway!

Okay, it's time....I am hosting my very first giveaway as a way to say "thanks" to my peeps for supporting me in my blogging venture, listening to me whine about my kids discuss parenting issues, enduring my chocolate obsession, and leaving such nice comments!  You guys ROCK :D

Jocelyn at CSN stores has agreed to give one of YOU a $35.00 online gift code to use at ANY of their 200+ online stores.  Hellooo?! Santa can use all the help he can get!  Christmas is coming at us quick, fast and in a hurry.  CSN stores has pretty much everything!  You need a dining room table? They got it.  Need bakeware?  They got it.  Kid's stuff?  Exercise stuff?  Yep, they got it! 

All you have to do is enter in my giveaway, following a few of the "rules" and a random drawing will pick a winner.  You have until midnight Friday, October 29, 2010 (eastern standard time) to enter.  Keep in mind that CSN only ships to the US and Canada.

Ready?! Let's do it....Leave a separate comment for each entry.

MANDATORY ENTRY (this must be done for any other entries to count!)

*  Follow me via Google Friend Connect or let me know if you are already a follower! (1 entry)
*  Visit csnstores (you can use above link) and tell me one thing you'd like to order with your gift code! (1 entry)

OPTIONAL ENTRIES (these are not required but will increase your chances of winning!) **leave a link for these in the comments!

*Follow me on Twitter ( @kimslittlelife ) (2 entries)

*Tweet abt my giveaway  (2 entries)

*For 5 entries, mention my giveaway in your next blog post! Please include the sentence: "Looking for a new cookware set, or perhaps a dining room table for the holidays? Check out Mo'Betta's giveaway sponsored by CSN Stores!"

It can be any variation of this as long as “dining room table” is hyperlinked to http://www.diningroomsdirect.com// and it must be the first link on the post for it to count!
(yes there is something in it for me, if I can get at least 3 of you to do this one, I get a $20 gift code too!)

Good luck and thank you for participating!  Remember, all entries need to be in by midnight Friday the 29th (EST).

PIE!!

I haven't posted anything sweet in, like, DAYS!!!  I was really wanting to bake something....and I have apples....and I had a pie crust in the freezer SO....

Creamy Apple Crumb Pie! (original recipe from allrecipes.com)

 I had to eat a large slice as soon as it came out of the oven so I could take this picture for you guys.  The sacrifices I make for my blog ;)  The lighter topping is where the butter didn't blend in well...I used Smart Balance Light, so I'm sure that's the issue.  I didn't care, it was all good!
 A delicious blend of spices
The crumb topping and crust are my favorite parts!

Ingredients -
1 pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie

6 cups cubed peeled tart apples

1/3 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup reduced-fat sour cream  *I used plain non-fat (homemade) yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

TOPPING:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons cold butter  *Smart Balance 50/50 blend

Directions

1.Line a 9-in. deep-dish pie plate with pastry; flute edges. In a large bowl, combine the apples, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and allspice. Combine sour cream and vanilla; stir into apple mixture. Spoon into pastry shell.

2.For topping, combine the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over filling.

3.Bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F; bake 25-30 minutes longer or until filling is bubbly and topping is golden. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate leftovers.
******************************

And you may or may not eat large quantities while the pie is trying to cool.  I'm not sayin' I did that, just sayin', you might be inclined to do so.  Especially if you are really hungry and have been drooling over how good the baking pie makes your house smell!

Off to running with my girls in a bit (we have a local running club that started a running program for kids - and their parents!), then a family trip to the Pumpkin Farm!!!  Yes, I'm sure you will be bombarded with pictures of my little punkin's with their pumpkins :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

mo' pizza

I have several posts about pizza...but here's another!  We love pizza and I make it pretty frequently, especially now that I have two fabulous crust recipes!!  Pizza is so versatile that you can make it suit everybody's preferences without too much hassle.  Also, you can make pizza dough ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze it.  If I freeze it I like to go ahead and spread it out and pre-bake for a few minutes then it's ready to add toppings and go into the oven.  Of course, you have to be pretty organized to make stuff ahead and freeze it, which I am not.  But it's a nice thought....

The first one I wanted to share comes from allrecipes and can be found here.  The only change I made was I used half whole wheat flour.  Also, I mixed up the dough and left it to rise while I took the kids to swim practice, so it was more than an hour.  And let me tell ya, it was the best pizza dough!  It was crispy on the outside, but soft and fluffy on the inside.  My only complaint is that it was a little bland.  Next time I'll add some garlic powder and seasonings to the dough, but the consistency and texture where awesome. 


The other pizza dough I want to share comes from Eats Well With Others.  You should check out her post on this, b/c she did a great picture tutorial. This will be my go-to pizza dough until I get completely tired of pumpkin, or can't find it any more!!  Who would have thought about pumpkin pizza dough?  But it's SO good!  I had some yeast issues when making this, and not the girl-hiding-in-the-grey-hooded-sweatshirt type issues, but the yeast didn't proof or poof as I like to say.  However, I didn't have any more, so I made the pizza anyway.  It just didn't rise very much.  The flavor was still AWE-SOME.  How many times can I say awesome in a post?!  Is there an omg-that's-annoying number of times I can describe something as awesome?  You'll have to let me know.  I can take it.  Not really.  I don't do criticism.  You don't like, keep it to your self.  Just kidding.  Moving on....you might actually want the recipe.  or at least some pics of my awesome pizza. 

Check out that color!

I guess you can tell which part is mine.  Peppers make it mo' betta!

I can't wait to make this again.  As a matter of fact, I went ahead and bought the large can of pumpkin instead of the small ones b/c I've been on a pumpkin kick.  It's b/c every food blog I read has some fab pumpkin recipe going on. 

Of course, when I have to deal with flour and dough...the entire kitchen tells the tale
 
It's all over me (that's my lovely apron)

It's on the floor

And don't even get me started on the countertops.  Somehow I missed taking that picture....

So go make some pizza this weekend!  Happy Friday!!!




Thursday, October 21, 2010

SaS - vegetarian style


It's Thursday, so you know what that means...it's Share A Spoon time with Think Tank Momma.  Head on over and link up!  This week's theme is.....vegetarian dishes.  That's right peeps, NO MEAT.  This was kind of a tough one for me, since eating vegetables is pretty much a new concept.  However, being the ireallydontlikeveggie person that I am, I have discovered a few really good veggie recipes.  So, you know if I think they are tasty, then they must be pretty darn good vegetable dishes. 

The first one is Orzo with Roasted Vegetables.  It is delicious!!



The second one is Roasted Vegetable Pizza....are you sensing a theme here?  Yes, I much prefer roasted veggies!

And don't forget this yummy side dish!  Roasted cauliflower...much better than it looks or sounds!

And then of course, there is the (not so) GREEN MONSTER...it's tasty and can easily replace a breakfast or lunch meal, depending on what you put in it.  These are great when you are in a hurry and need to take something on the run (way better for you and more filling than a pop-tart or something) or before a workout.  Which I haven't done in days :P

So there you have it.  My contribution to this week's SaS!  Now, go eat your veggies!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My first giveaway!

As a big fat thank-you to my readers I am hosting my very first giveaway.  CSN Stores has offered to provide one lucky winner with a gift code to use at any of their 200+ online stores.  You probably have seen their name all over blog land, as they have EVERYTHING from a dining room table to great holiday baking pans to a toddler bed (which I just ordered for Mr. Two!).  So stay tuned for details on my first giveaway!!!  I'm excited, can you tell!  And what a great way to work on crossing things off that Christmas list....have you started shopping?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What's in your lunch box?

I'm always posting about chocolate and bread and .....chocolate, but what does the Mo'Betta household eat on a daily basis?  Well, for me it would be chocolate - but I try to do better with my kiddos!  I thought I would do a post on what I pack in their lunch boxes.  My kids, as you have probably gathered if you've read even a few posts, are super picky eaters.  Therefore, more often than not, they do not like what is on the school lunch menu.  Actually, my 2nd grader has never bought lunch at school.  She refuses.  So, everyday I pack her lunch, and snack, and most of the time pack Number One's lunch too. 
I try to feed my kids semi-healthy foods, and have greatly reduced the amount of pre-packaged, convenience type foods over the past year or so.  (they use to live off of Uncrustables and Lunchables)With Number Two's BMI on the upper end of where it should be, a diabetic husband, and Mr. T. Two's food allergies - not to mention myself - still carrying around baby weight (and the baby is 2!) it was important to make some life style changes.  I started preparing A LOT more food "from scratch", increasing our vegetable intake, and increasing our daily exercise.  This has been an ongoing process for at least a year, and something instituted for the entire family. 

So, again, what do the kids eat?  Here are a few examples -
Turkey (without nitrates/nitrites!) and reduced fat colby-jack cheese on whole wheat bread - you can't really see the pumpkin face imprint on the bread, but mommy was trying to get cutesy; Cape Cod reduced fat chips; orange slices; 100 calorie Yo Crunch yogurt for snack

whole wheat bagel thin with thin layer of dark chocolate almond butter spread; goldfish, watermelon, and I'm not sure what is in the drink bottle - either decaf tea with stevia or water. I usually give them those little 'packets' to turn their water into lemonade, etc.  Sugar-free.  Snack is not pictured...but I think it was a Kashi Go-lean bar (they're good!)

Ham and cheese (again, ham without nitrates) and plain old american sliced cheese - my 7 year old is the only one who will eat american cheese!  Baked Cheetos; apple spice cookies and an apple.

PB&J! I use a natural peanut butter (Skippy I think) without hydrogenated vegetable oil and lower sugar grape jelly.  (b/c they will only eat GRAPE!)  Reduced fat Cape Cod Salt & Vinegar chips (again, their favorite), orange slices, and a yo kids yogurt, with water and Caprisun Water (this still has sugar in it, but not nearly as much as regular CapriSuns) 

 whole wheat tortilla with dark chocolate almond butter, honey nut chex cereal and apple w/decaf tea sweetened w/Stevia

Honey Nut Chex cereal (b/c I just couldn't think of anything!)  100-calorie yogurt, apples, w/milk.
I use the Easy Lunch Box system that I won in a giveaway, back when I really first started blogging.  I was so excited to get them, and use them everyday!  I love not having to use plastic bags everyday.  I'm really trying to be more "green".

So anyway, those are a few examples of what the kids take to school.  Of course they could be better/healthier, but it's better than what they used to eat, and better than what a lot of their friends bring! Some of the things the girls tell me their friends eat on a daily basis amazes me.  Like the kid who brings doughnuts...everyday!  I just want to shake some of these parents!  Hello - saturated fat, trans fat, heart attacks, stroke?!  Come on.  Of course, I also read blogs where the moms pack fruit and veggie bentos, and I feel like a slacker...but I've got to keep it real.  I know if I pack my kids stuff they don't like, they won't eat it.  How many times did I trade stuff at lunch when I was a kid?  A lot - I remember I used to trade something almost everyday with another girl for her strawberry pop tart!  Her mom packed her one everyday, and my mom rarely bought them.  Especially not the frosted ones!  But anyway...if anyone has any lunch suggestions, I'd be happy to hear them.  Packing the same stuff gets old!

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