Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

God Bless America
and all those who serve our country
past and present...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cookies & Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies

When making the teacher gifts for my son's preschool teachers I had in mind a cookie recipe that called for white chocolate chips.  I stop by a nearby grocery store with my very sleepy 3 year old (worst time ever to go to the grocery store), not to mention I'm a hot mess from just surviving boot camp or some such class at the Y.  Point being....not a single white chocolate chip to be found in the stupid store.  (They did have some fabulous produce however.  Red plump tomatoes, fresh corn on the cob, fully ripe strawberries...yes, I walked out with all these items.  But no white chocolate chips.)

However, they had these...
Cookies n' Cream Easter bunnies.  Marked down 50 or 75%?  
*light bulb moment*
Cookies n' Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies were born.

My oldest daughter luuuuvs cookies and cream anything.  I, however, am not a fan.  I know, weird right?  Cuz I love the evil Oreo.  Anyway...I thought it would be an interesting twist on the traditional chocolate 
chip cookie, and I knew if they didn't turn out, my kids would eat them anyway!

Cookies n' Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies 

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt  *only if using unsalted butter
3/4 cup Smart Balance 50/50 butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips chopped cookies and cream candy bars (or bunnies!)
1/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper or use silicone baking mats.
2. Sift Whisk together the flour, baking soda and *salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.
3. Beat in the vanilla, & egg, and egg yolk until light & creamy. Mix in the dry ingredients until just blended.
4. Stir in the cookies n' cream pieces & chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time (for giant cookies) or a tablespoon at a time (for smaller cookies) onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
5. Bake larger cookies for 15 to 17 minutes, or 10 to 12 minutes for smaller ones (check your cookies before they’re done; depending on your scoop size, your baking time will vary) in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
***********************
I made enough to give to the teachers, plus a few for a "taste test" ;)  Since it was getting late, I took the remaining uncooked cookies, placed them on a baking sheet and froze them.  The next morning I took the frozen dough and put them in a freezer bag.  Now, whenever we want cookies, I can pull out a few and bake up fresh, homemade cookies.  Just increase the baking time listed above.  I don't know why I've never tried doing this before!

These cookies were good, but very sweet with the chunks of cookies'n cream bars.  You could probably cut back on the sugar and be fine.  My oldest thought they were mighty fine, you know, since they have absolutely no redeeming healthy qualities!

I'm linking up today with Homemaker on a Dime, Delightfully Dowling, Skip to my Lou, The Girl Creative, It's a Blog PartyMaking the World Cuter, KdBuggie Boutique, Blue Cricket Design, At Home with Haley, This Chick Cooks, Alli n Son, Eat at Home

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Most awesome banana bread

First I should mention that I'm not really a fan of banana bread.  I don't like bananas.  However, this is Not Your Ordinary Banana Bread!  You know with a blog titled "The Girl Who Ate Everything", she knows what she's talking about.  I wanted to make a little appreciation gift for my son's preschool teachers since his last day of school was last week.  They didn't get the cookies for Teacher Appreciation Week, so I felt like a baked good was in order!  I had some very ripe bananas in the freezer, so I started thinking about banana bread.
The title is perfect - Not Your Ordinary Banana Bread...because this is sooo good!  Moist and delicious.

 Ingredients -

Cream:
¾ c. butter
2 eggs
1 ½ c. brown sugar
about 2 cups mashed banana *this was 5 medium to small bananas for me
1/2 c. crushed pineapple 
1/2 c. applesauce  *I used unsweetened
Add:
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. cinnamon 
1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
2 ½ c. flour
1 cup chopped pecans
Pour into 3 medium bread pans and sprinkle with 1 bag of milk chocolate chips. Bake at 325 for 55 minutes to 1 hour.  I used mini loaf pans, and made 4 plus another "half loaf" in a regular size loaf pan.
The pineapple and applesauce make this a moist bread, with a nice hint of flavor.  It's not too "banana-y" if that makes sense!  I decided to skip the chocolate chips (shocker, I know!) and went with the pecans.  I thought they worked very well in this bread.

I also added some cookies to the teachers' gift...and I will post those soon.  Right now I'm having major computer issues which are driving me bonkers.  I always use Internet Explorer, and it won't let me sign in to Blogger since some tech guys "cleaned up" my computer. Something to do with cookies, and I've done all the troubleshooting it says to do.  So, today I'm using Firefox, which I'm not familiar with, and nothing is working like it's supposed too.  I wish I was a total computer geek.  And while I'm complaining, the computer is still running sllllooooowwww.  That, combined with PMS, is making me want to chunk the laptop through a window.  But that would be extreme.  (Not to mention, my husband would be pissed!)  Anyway, I'm assuming I'll get it all worked out eventually.  Wish me luck.

I'm linking this recipe up with It's a KeeperFeeding FourMiz Helen's Country Cottage, This Chick Cooks, Little Brick Ranch, and Sweet as Sugar Cookies, Eat at Home

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - S'mo Betta

So what do you do with a bunch of homemade graham crackers?
You make s'mores of course!
Want a bite?
No campfire? No prob.  Micro s'mores.
Kid's love 'em!
ooey, gooey, deliciousness. 

Feel free to contribute to the 'my-kid-has-to-have-braces' fund.

Okay, so not exactly "wordless".

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Homemade Graham Crackers

I'm not sure when or why I decided I had to make homemade graham crackers, but once it was in my head, I couldn't get rid of the idea.  Some supermarket brands have extra additives and preservatives, and some have the "may contain/processed on the same equipment as... peanuts, eggs, etc" on the package.  (Obviously I don't have a Trader Joe's or other awesome grocery store near-by)  So I decided to make them, and reviewed several recipes on the internet.

I decided to go with this one from Two Peas and Their Pod.  I liked that it was almost all whole wheat flour and contained molasses (which is one of my favorite things!)

Ingredients-
½ cup all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 T honey
1 T molasses *I used 2 T.
¼ cup water, plus a little more if it is too dry

Combine all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Cut in the butter until the texture is dry and crumbly.

In a small bowl, mix the honey, molasses, and water. Mix with the dry ingredients until blended in the food processor. Pulse the dough until it forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface.  Roll the dough out thin and cut with cookie cutters, or you can do the traditional graham cracker shape. If you do this cut them into rectangles and poke each cracker with a fork.  I cut mine with a pizza cutter and let my daughter poke the holes in them!  Place them on a cookie sheet (I used a silicon mat).
Bake for 15 minutes or until they are golden brown and crisp. Store in an air tight container. They will keep for awhile.
I couldn't resist making some little 'teddy grahams' too!  I sprinkled these with cinnamon-sugar.
Someone was a fan! He especially liked the cinnamon-sugar teddy grahams, and I felt good about giving them to him as a snack.  Not to mention I didn't have to worry about an allergic reaction.  Always a plus.

My thoughts - The dough is delicious.  The baked cookie was good, but not great.  They are very crunchy, but not flaky and crispy like a store bought graham cracker.  I think I could have rolled them a little thinner; using butter instead of Smart Balance 50/50 may make a difference; and increasing the all-purpose to wheat flour ratio.  I'll definitely do that next time and see what happens. 

Overall, it was a fun little experiment & something the kids enjoyed helping with.  I'm sure I'll probably make them again, since the little man enjoyed them so much. 

Check in tomorrow, and I'll post some pics of what my girls and I did with them! Yes, it involves chocolate :D

I'm linking this recipe up with
Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, Dr. Laura's Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays @ 33 Shades of Green, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Made from Scratch Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday @ For The Love Of Blogs, Blog It Forward Tuesday, Feeding Four, Show and Tell @ Blue Cricket Design, At Home with Haley, Little Brick Ranch

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cornmeal Buttermilk Biscuits

I know, some of you are thinking "didn't she just post those?".  Well I did, during what I like to refer to as the "Blogger blackout".  The post disappeared, never to return I suppose, so I thought I would post it again.  The biscuits are yummy, and a little something different.  If you are like me and love both cornbread and biscuits, it's the perfect solution!

The first time I saw them was at Liv Life....the photos alone will make you want to fix these immediately.  My pics are not nearly as enticing, but they were tasty none the less!
Cornmeal Buttermilk Biscuits - slightly adapted from Liv Life (a Cooking Light recipe)
 *My changes are in italics

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
 
1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces *I used Smart Balance 50/50

1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk or skim milk with 1/2 T. vinegar added (let sit for a few minutes)

Directions -
Preheat oven to 450°.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flours, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk; stir just until moist.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Pat dough into an 8 x 4-inch rectangle. Cut dough by making 1 lengthwise cut and 3 crosswise cuts to form 8 biscuits. Place biscuits, 1 inch apart, on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 450° for 12 minutes or until golden. Serve biscuits warm or at room temperature.
Holla! I'm heading to the YMCA for "boot camp".  Wish me luck!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Easy Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

The biggest complaint I hear when talking to friends about cooking from scratch is the time factor.  "I don't have time", "it takes too long", "I'm tired in the evenings"...well sista, I totally relate.  Even though I am a "stay-at-home" mom now (which I use that term loosely, b/c I never seem to be able to stay at home) I was also a working mom for several years.  I totally get it.  There is never enough time to get everything done you'd like to do in a day.  And for me personally, there is never enough energy!  After about 2:00 in the afternoon, I'm pooped.  I'm hoping that now that I'm exercising again on a more regular basis, that my energy will pick back up.  An oxymoron I know, but I really felt so much better when I was working out several days a week.

But as usual, I digress.  I'm sure I had a point when I started out...oh yeah, cooking from scratch.  First, it does require some planning.  If I don't have anything planned out, or at least some general idea of what I want to fix, then it's hard to do much 'homemade'.  However, with a little planning, and a little internet searching, and some trial and error along the way, you will find that you can prepare healthier, tastier, dishes from fresh ingredients without relying on a box or mix or frozen entree.  Or take out.  For example, I have bought spaghetti sauce in a jar for years.  I always assumed trying to make a homemade spaghetti sauce was way to much trouble when you could open a jar and be done with it.  However, my husband has never been a big fan of jarred sauce.  I've experimented with different sauces, trying to find the "right" one.  He likes a nice thick sauce, (without a lot of chunks of tomato/peppers).  People are picky like that.  Some like a thin sauce, some like thick, some like sweet, some spicy, blah, blah, blah.  Therefore, you may not like this sauce, but we thought it was good.   I call it 'semi-homemade'...oh, well, maybe not - seems like that catchy little phrase is taken (and probably copyrighted).  So, we can say it's.... 'sort of homemade'.  Obviously, you can sub the store-bought canned tomatoes for fresh, or if you have tomatoes put up from last summer. (if so, I'm jealous)

easy homemade spaghetti sauce
adapted from Nanny's Spaghetti Sauce from allrecipes.com

*We like a meat sauce, so I started out with a pound of lean ground beef, cooked and drained. 
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 3 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 of small onion, diced
  • 1 grated carrot
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar *I used one packet of stevia
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes *omitted and added to my plate

Directions

  1. In a large skillet cook the onion and carrot in a little olive oil until it starts to soften (abt 3 minutes?), add garlic and cook for a minute.  The stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, garlic, sugar, vinegar, oregano and red pepper flakes cooked ground beef.  Stir all together and simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes (for the best flavor). Stir frequently to prevent burning.               
*************************
This made a nice thick sauce that had much more flavor than the Heart Healthy Light No Sugar Added sauce I have been using!  It really needed the addition of green pepper....somehow I forgot those, and I had some in the freezer!  I grated my carrot really fine, and made sure I mashed up the chunks of tomato for my hubs and middle child (my oldest will not eat sauce).  Carrot adds a sweetness to the sauce, so keep that in mind if you add sugar. (Carrot also adds some fiber and beta carotene!)

Bottom line, this is an easy sauce to prepare, even on a week night.  Play with it, make it your own, and you will feel good about feeding it to your family. 

Of course, I should not mention that I had Wendy's for dinner.  But hey, it's Friday.  I don't cook much on Fridays :)  (I actually did cook the kids' dinner - fresh fruit and corn and baked chicken nuggets- but they ate earlier in the evening.  Hubs and I ate fast food and ate late.  What a terrible combination!)  I definitely better hit the spin class in the morning.  We'll see - it starts at 8:15! 

hmmm, what's that expression...'do as I say, not as I do?!'

I'm a day late, but I'm linking this up with Think Tank Momma's Share a Spoon!  Thursday's theme was ground beef!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Mo's Mom & Pop

Yes, this is the back of a man's head.  This man is my dad.  At this time last year, my dad had no hair, was thin, very pale, extremely weak, and was waiting for a life-saving bone marrow transplant.  So when I look at this pic from this past Mother's Day weekend, it makes me very happy!  Here he sits, with good color, and head full of hair, and chatting on the phone!  It's a wonderful sight to me!! 

My Mom & Dad.
  He surprised her (and I mean really surprised her) with a Louis Vuitton purse for Mother's Day.  I'm pretty sure it cost more than my first car.  It was a "thank you and I love you" from my dad to my mom...who never left his side the entire time he was in the hospital (and we're talking months).  She slept on cots, in chairs, ate crappy hospital food and did whatever she had to do to support and take care of Dad when he was sick.  She deserves a Louis V!
I love you mom and dad!!

I'm feeling so blessed, and so proud of my parents for being the strong, dedicated and loving parents that they are,  that I linked today's Wordless Wednesday with all the linkys found HERE, please take a look!

Back to Basics - White Bread

As you probably know, we love bread around here.  However, I almost always buy whole wheat bread, and I bake with a lot of whole wheat flour.  So, can anyone explain what possessed me to buy 20 lbs of all-purpose flour from Sam's Club?  Yeah, I'm not sure either. 

Don't get me wrong, I love white bread and all-purpose flour, but whole wheat is healthier.  Sometimes, though, you may really want some good old fashioned soft, fluffy white bread.  Especially homemade.  Toasted homemade white bread with a schmear of butta....mmmm mmm good.
and you may have 20 lbs of flour sitting around.  I checked allrecipes.com for a good recipe to try and decided on White Bread I - quick & easy in the bread machine with basic ingredients.
Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cups lukewarm milk
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Directions

  1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer.
  2. Select Basic or White Bread setting, and press Start. When done, place on wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
It was very good! Nice flaky crust, soft, fluffy inside...I don't think this loaf lasted 24 hours.  I'm sure this can be made without a bread machine too.  Just, you know, don't ask me how.  I know this isn't anything fancy, or full of whole grains or different ingredients, but sometimes....sometimes it's good just to get back to basics :)


I'm linking up today with Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, Dr. Laura's Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays @ 33 Shades of Green, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Made from Scratch Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday @ For The Love Of Blogs, Follow Me Chickadee Tuesdays, Blog It Forward Tuesday

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bacon Chicken Ranch Pizza

One of my 'goals' this year is to decrease the amount of food we waste around here.  It drives me crazy to buy groceries, prepare meals, and then the leftovers end up in the trash.  I have found the best way to utilize the leftovers is to use them in another dish.  That way, the fam doesn't feel like they are eating the same thing two nights in a row. I have to admit, I'm terrible for not eating leftovers.  I generally just don't like or want them.  However, I do like pizza.  A lot.  So anything that can be turned into a pizza has a much better chance of getting eaten!  That's how this Bacon Chicken Ranch pizza was born.  We had leftover chicken breasts and I was trying to figure out what to do with them.  I really don't like leftover chicken. However, I figured with enough bacon and cheese, who would know there was chicken?!  We like bacon chicken ranch salads and subs, so I figured, why not pizza!
*All you need is your favorite pizza dough
*Ranch dressing for your "sauce"
*diced chicken
*chopped bacon (I used real bacon bits from the bag that I buy for salad topping)
*your choice of cheese(s) - we used mozzarella and cheddar

Surprisingly, this was a big hit with the hubs and Miss Two.

I also threw together what I called "chicken parmesan pizza" -
which was chicken, pizza sauce and cheese!  But hey, chicken parm pizza sounded like I had really cooked up something ;) 

It was a good way to use up the leftover chicken!  Do you like leftovers?  What's your favorite way to use them up?  I've been trying to plan meals for 4 nights, then have a "leftover night".  Then we just kind of wing it over the weekend.  I've been kind of slack the past 2 weeks, but this week is the hubs bday, so I'm going to try to do better!  I'll be making his favorite sugar free cheesecake.

Hope everyone had a great weekend.  I got a lot of work done in my garden!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Review of Nonstick Carbon Steel Baking Sheet Triple Pack

Originally submitted at CSN Stores



Features:

  • Includes one 9" x 13" baking sheet, one 10" x 15" baking sheet, and one 11" x 17" baking sheet
  • Nonstick coating for easy food release
  • Cleans easily
Specificat...


Great value

By Mo'Betta Mommy Blogger from NC on 5/15/2011

 

4out of 5

I love the different sizes that came in one affordable pack. Cleans super easy and great for light to moderate baking needs.

(legalese)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dump Cake and Southern Cookbooks

Dump Cake.  That's got to be one of the worst names for a cake.  It's not even a 'cake' cake.  It's more like a cobbler maybe.  However, dump cobbler sounds even worse.  Whatever.  It actually has other names, but I have always known it has 'dump cake', so that's what I'm calling it.  It can be found at most coverdish events all around the South. 

I had to bring a dessert to my child's school the other day for a luncheon they were having and (as usual) wanted something quick and easy.  I went perusing some of  my old cookbooks...
like this one...copyright 1978.  I love to look through church cookbooks.  You get all these great traditional Southern recipes by women in the church like Mabel, Doris, Agnes, Annie Mae; and you can always find a great coverdish recipe.  There isn't a Baptist church around that doesn't put on a coverdish on a pretty regular basis!

I decided to make this-
You can't tell much from the picture, but trust me, it is sooooo good.  And super simple.
I used blueberry pie filling instead of cherry and I only used 1 stick of butter instead of 2.  Because damn, I'm trying to feed the people, not send them into cardiac arrest.  I also omitted the pecans in case of food allergies, but it is really good with them.  So, thank you Miss Jean and Miss Ellen for providing the recipe.  (From a cookbook that was printed when I was 6 y/o just in case you were wondering)  I'm not sure how I came to own this particular cookbook, but I think it came from my mom.

The dessert was a hit, so that was good.  You hate to be known as 'that mom who brought that nasty tasting dessert that time'.  Now I can be called 'that mom who never volunteers but sent that yummy blueberry stuff that time'.  And just for the record, it's very hard to volunteer your time when you have a 3 y/o wild man who I would have to spend all my time chasing down while trying to work carnival booths, set up book fairs, serve at luncheons, proctor tests, etc.  So there.  Get off my case!  Oh sorry, I'm not talking to you.  I think I'm just talking to my guilty conscience.  Paah-leeeeze....all moms out there....give yourself a break.  We are much harder on ourselves than anyone else is.  And if you have a critic, well, screw 'em go make them a dump cake ;) 

As most of us are aware, Blogger was having major issues this week.  My last post, for the yummy Cornbread Buttermilk Biscuits was deleted.  I'm going to wait around a little longer and see if it magically reappears.  If not, I'll repost next week. 

I'm linking this recipe up at Sweets for a Saturday

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New Purex Complete with Zout

You may remember my post about Purex Complete Crystals Softener (which I'm still using and love) and before that I posted about Purex for Sensitive Skin (which I'm also still using for my little man).  Now, as a Purex Insider, I was given the opportunity to try a sample of the new Purex Complete with Zout Stain Remover.  Yes, stain remover!  Now if you have kids, you know how messy they can get...grass stains, food stains, you name it, so having a stain remover built into your washing detergent (and can be used as a pre-treater too) is pretty fantastic.  Plus, it's safe for my front-loading (HE) washer and comes in a Free & Clear formula too.  Which is great for Mr. Messy Man with super sensitive skin.
Purex Complete with Zout Stain Remover can fight whatever this guy gets into because it contains three effective enzymes that target different types of stains:

Protease: works against protein based stains (grass, blood, etc)
Amylase: works against starchy stains (chocolate, tomato sauce)
Mannanase: works agains "sticky" stains (ice cream, barbecue sauce, salad dressings, etc)

Not only is Purex an effective product, it's cheaper than many other brands on the market - now that is a win-win in my book!  If I had been more organized, I could have offered y'all a giveaway or free sample.  oops.  Sorry peeps.  I'll try to do better next time.  But seriously, most of us are looking for ways to cut cost (with gas right at $4.00/gallon here!) and when you can get a product that cost less, but contains 2 products in one, that's a pretty good deal.  (It has a nice, light, fresh scent too!)

As a Purex Insider I was offered a sample of the above product to fascilitate my review.  No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Oatmeal Brunch Casserole

found here

Not long after my husband was diagnosed with Diabetes, my sister gave us this cookbook.  I have been trying to go through my books and bookmark recipes I'd like to make, and one from here immediately caught my attention - 'oatmeal brunch casserole'.  I love oatmeal, and have posted several different ones on the blog, so bear with me.  Plus, it's good for you!  I just wish I could get my kids to eat it in some form other than a cookie.

Oatmeal Brunch Casserole- BHG Easy Diabetic Meals

for 2 servings - (my changes are in italics)
1 cup fat-free milk
1-1/2 tsp. margarine or butter *Smart Balance 50/50
1/2 cup regular rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped apple or pear *omitted
3 Tbsp. dried tart cherries or golden raisins *dried blueberries
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tsp. brown sugar

1. Lightly coat a 1-quart casserole with cooking spray; set aside.  In a small saucepan bring the mild and margarine to boiling.  Slowly stir in oats.  Stir in apple, dried cherries, dried blueberries, walnuts, vanilla, and salt.  Cook and stir until bubbly.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes more.  Pour into the prepared casserole.

2.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 munites.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.  Bake about 5 minutes more or until bubbly around edges.  Cool slightly.  If desired, serve the warm oatmeal with additional milk.
****************
This was good, but a little too sweet (even for me!) with the dried blueberries.  Next time, I would reduce the sugar or use the cherries, or a combination of dried fruit.  Also, it was kind of a lot of work for first thing in the morning.  I'm a grab and go kinda gal.  All this measuring of tiny amounts was not fun for me so early.  Can you guess I'm not a morning person?!

I decided to give the recipe another go, but mo'betta style.  (aka 'fast and easy' - and I'm only talking about my cooking here. haha)

This time I used my overnight oats 'recipe'.  The next morning I took my oats out of the fridge and added walnuts and brown sugar (I was out fruit!) and heated it for about 10 minutes at 350.  You'll start to smell the walnuts and the brown sugar will get nice and golden.  This was delicious and so much easier than the first version!  You may want to add a little more milk before heating, depending on the consistency you like your oatmeal.  The walnuts and flax seeds get nice and toasted in the oven, so there is no need to do that step ahead of time.  It's not exactly the same 'casserole' consistency, but it's still a good, baked oatmeal.

So there you have it, a quick and easy way to get a hot, healthy, filling and yummy breakfast!  Of course, you have to remember to prepare your oats the night before, which I forgot to do last night!
Also, just an FYI - it's probably not a good idea to stick a cold glass dish from the refrigerator straight into a hot oven.  If you are using glass, like I did, you can let it sit out a bit to get to room temp or put the dish into a cold oven and then start the oven preheating (which is what I did b/c I didn't want to wait!).  I've heard of glass exploding in the oven, which does not sound like a good way to start my morning, so be careful!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hide 'n Seek...veggie style

I hide veggies in my kids' food fairly often.  So often that my 10 y/o now likes to scan the recipe I'm using, inspect her food for hidden specks of green, and will ask "did you add anything"?  Said in a tone that suggests I'm adding some secret toxic ingredient.  I know some people argue that kids need to learn to appreciate the taste of vegetables and if you sneak them in foods they are not learning to appreciate the true flavor or learn proper nutrition.  To those people I say "do you have kids?!"  Because if you can tell me how you can get your angel of a child that eats everything you put in front of him/her when starting baby foods one day, who all of sudden, one day decides that he/she will no longer be eating the strained green beans that they devoured the day before....please fill me in.  In my experience, with all three of my children, they had very definitive likes and dislikes from an early age.  Just because I fed them green/orange/yellow veggies as soon as I could, did not ensure that those good eating habits would last.  They all loved squash in pureed form, until one day...they didn't.  And wouldn't.  I don't care how much I conjoled, pleaded and played airplane, they just decided they didn't like lots of vegetables after a while.  And I mean really, who wants vegetables when there are Cheerios in this world?  So, what do you do?  Well, if you are like me, you start mixing the vegetable with a fruit....and so the sneaking in of veggies begins.  I would still try the plain vegetable first, b/c I have read that it may take trying something 10 times before you like it, but when it was refused, I would mix.  Now, that works pretty well until they start feeding themselves.  Then you have to get even more creative.

Like hiding vegetables in cookies, or breadMuffins work great for this too.  I've not been quite as successful in our main meals, but I keep trying.  I put spinach in a lot of stuff, it's one of those vegetables I've made peace with and accepted as part of my life.  Like grey hair and laugh lines.  (ok, maybe not grey hair.  Thank you Miss Clairol.)  My kids are not quite there yet, but we're making progress!  2 out of 3 kids will drink a spinach smoothie!  I was so excited!  And the other night they ate this....
This is my version of a calzone.  My oldest does not like any kind of red sauce, so this works well for her.  We had ham, mini turkey pepperoni, different cheeses, and yes...hidden under all that cheese - spinach!  I really thought they would not eat it, b/c you can actually SEE the spinach.  However, I was shocked pleasantly surprised, they all liked it!  Or they were starving, b/c all 3 ate it.  Score!  I used this pizza crust, made with half whole wheat flour.  Somehow, I deleted the picture of the cooked calzone, but just pretend it was a really pretty shaped calzone.  (it wasn't, it was sort of lumpy and lopsided, but that's beside the point - they ate it!)

I didn't have to hide my spinach.  Because I'm a big girl now.  Too big, I need to lay off the pizza :P

Do your kids like lots of vegetables?  If not, how do you make sure they have a balanced diet?  It's an ongoing struggle around here.  For that matter, do YOU like veggies?!  I'm slowly learning to like more and more.  I have my garden to thank for that.  And my sister.  And food blogs :D  You'll be bombarded with garden pics soon, I have baby lettuce, spinach, carrots, onions, green beans, cucumbers, watermelon, cantoloupe, and waiting on several other things to pop up!  Love it!

Hope everyone enjoyed Mother's Day weekend!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Cookies for the Teacher!

As I've mentioned earlier in the week, it's National Cookie Week AND Teacher Appreciation Week, so, being the multi-tasker that I am, decided to make yummilicious cookies for my kids' teachers!  This was a recipe I've never made before, so I was a little nervous as to how they would turn out.  But seeing as how I didn't try to make them low fat or healthy, and I used an egg, they turned out really well ;)  These are not allergy friendly I'm afraid.

The base recipe was from Family Circle Magazine...from 1994.  Now, why I have a recipe from Family Circle dating back to 1994 is beyond me.  I was still in college in '94.  Unmarried, no kids...but apparently, I was reading Family Circle.  *shoulder shrug*  I don't get it.  However, how amazing is it that I cut out a recipe from a magazine, while in college, and ump-teen years later, still have it?! (Can you say pack-rat?)  Anyway, none of that is really important.  The important part is this fab cookie!
Tropical Trail Mix Cookies - adapted from M&M's 'Jumbles' Cookie, Family Circle, 1994

1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter or margarine *I used Smart Balance 50/50
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup Tropical Trail Mix (except I picked out the banana chips b/c I didn't know how they would bake up)
1 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F.  In a bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy; add egg.  Combine flour and baking soda; blend into creamed mixture.  Stir in trail mix, nuts and chocolate chips.  Drop rounded tablespoonsful of dough (1-1/2 inch balls), about 2 inches apart, onto greased cookie sheets or silpat mats.  Bake 13-15 minutes.  Cool 2-3 minutes on cookie sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool thoroughly.  (Which y'all know I don't do...I always eat at least one while it's so hot it burns my mouth up).  Store in tightly covered container.  Makes about 32 cookies.

These cookies were very good!  I love the hint of tropical fruit and coconut mixed in with the chocolate and pecans.  And that is PEA-CANS not PEA-KAHNS, just in case you were wondering ;)
I put the cookies in a plastic bag and found these cute little tin buckets at Target.  They were 50% off in the Dollar Bins after Easter.
Then I just added some tissue paper and matching ribbon that I already had on the top....I think they're cute.  Except for the one on the far left who's tissue paper got all balled up compliments of Mr. Three Year Old.  Oh well, at least they got good, homemade cookies!

You want another fabulous cookie recipe?  Check out this Schmaker-Doodle recipe from Schmackary's Bakery...they released a normally "top-secret" cookie recipe in honor of National Cookie Week!  It's a new twist on the Snickerdoodle and sounds sooo good!  You can find lots more incredible recipes by searching the hashtag #NationalCookieWeek on Twitter!

I'm linking this recipe up with Foodie Friday @ Little Brick Ranch; Sweet Tooth Friday @ Alli 'n Son; and Sweets for a Saturday @ Sweet As Sugar Cookies

Thursday, May 5, 2011

en la cocina por CINCO DE MAYO!

Hola!  Me llamo es Margarita!  Not really, my name is Kim, but in high school we had to choose a "Spanish name" and Kim translates as....well, Kim ('Keem') and that was boring, so I chose Margarita!  Little did I know how important that name would become......mmmm, mar-gar-rriii-ta!! Trill those r's baby!  My absolute favorite beverage.  On the rocks.  With salt, please.  But as usual, I digress.  If my limited high school and college Spanish memories serve me correct, then my title says "in the kitchen for the 5th of May" aka Cinco de Mayo!  If I'm wrong, well, there's really no need to correct me.  haha.

Since I have a family full of non-adventurous eaters, I don't cook a lot of Mexican food.  Just the basics - tacos, enchiladas, etc.  Even then, they are very 'blanded down'.  I'm sure that's not the appropriate phrase, but you get my drift.  However, I did have a few things I wanted to share in honor of the day!

First of all, do you buy pre-packaged taco seasoning?  I always have, and never really gave any thought to what was in it.  Then one day, I had started preparing enchiladas and realized I didn't have a handy little packet that I really thought was sitting in the cabinet.  So....I thought, what spices do I need to make my own?  A little search gave me this recipe, and I just modified it to suit the sensitive taste buds in the house.  (I always spice my plate up a bit with red pepper flakes).  This worked out well, b/c you can control the level of spice, the sodium content, and no need for anything artificial or MSG.  Now, I just keep a little container of homemade taco seasoning!  Easy, peasy.
Next....guacamole!  I have a confession.  This is the first time I have ever bought an avocado.  So, obviously, the first time I've ever made guac, and only the second time I've even tried it!  If you haven't followed Mo'Betta from the beginning, you may not realize that I am very new on the journey of homemade vs. box cooking, and very recently (and slowly) learning to eat my veggies.  That message did not sink in as a child, regardless of how much my parents tried.  However, in becoming a parent myself, having a husband diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago, and having a child with food allergies...not to mention several extra pounds from all these babies....I knew our lifestyle had to change.  Anyway, back to the guacamole.  I have no idea if this turned out the way it's supposed to, b/c I don't eat it.  The first time I ever tried it was in college, and it was very bland, no 'flava'.  This, however, was delicious!  Take the main attraction....
add some fresh cilantro (to taste), a big sqeeze of lime, some salt and pepper...
and there you have it.  Some people add onion and tomato too.  I just kept it simple, since I added onions to my salmon tacos that I made the guac for.  It is so creamy, and a very good compliment to my tacos!
Not a great picture, but I was in too big a hurry to EAT!  This is just broiled salmon, seasoned with taco seasoning.  Super easy, and delicious.
We also like chicken or beef enchiladas.  I've found that if I put a thin layer of fat-free refried beans on the tortilla, the kids are none the wiser!  I like to sneak in extra veggies/protein/fiber whenever I can.
chicken flautas are also very mild, and pretty simple to prepare.  I'm not a big fan of corn tortillas however, which I used for this dish.  I usually buy the low carb/low fat flour tortillas.

So how are you celebrating Cinco de Mayo?!  I'd love to sit back and have a margarita.  BUT, I have to be out at school for my middle daughter's program at school tonight.  And I doubt the tequila would mix well with allergy medicine.  So if you do anything fun, make a toast to Mo'Betta :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I did it all for the cookie...

You have to be a Limp Bizkit fan to get the title I guess.  So check it out here if so inclined :)

I was all pumped for National Cookie Week - and it's Wednesday and I'm just now making my first batch of cookies.  I swear, life gets in the way of baking and blogging.  After a weekend of cussing conversing with nature (aka sleeping outside in the cold) I am now majorly suffering with my allergies.  And I think I have a pinched nerve causing me a great deal of pain in my left shoulder/neck area.  Yes, I would like some cheese with my whine please!  Oh, cry me a river.  Anyway, now that I've started off complaining and subjecting you to songs about nookie....let's move on shall we?!

I just checked on my 1st batch of cookies...and they look fantastic!!  It's an experimental recipe, so I was nervous, but looks like they are coming together pretty darn good.  Yay!  That definitely bolsters my mood.  Too bad I plan on giving them all away :(  I also just realized I didn't include my son's preschool teachers in my Teacher Appreciation cookie gifts.  Oops.  Now I need to make even more cookies.  What a shame

Wordless Wednesday is not so wordless today is it?  My plan was to link back to some previous cookie experiments recipes, so here goes....



Faux Peanut Butter Blossoms (peanut/egg free)







As you can see, I don't do 'decadent'.  The cookie I made today however, has eggs, nuts and a whole stick of butter! *gasp*  And no wheat or flax.  No wonder they are so good.  Yep, I've already sampled them.  Can't giveaway cookies you haven't taste tested first!

Search #NationalCookieWeek on Twitter and check out my previous post abt cookie week for other links to other fabulous cookie recipes!  (Like Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies, Inside Out Carrot Cake Cookies, Snickerdoodles, and the list goes on....yum!)

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