Friday, December 30, 2011

Everyone Else Is Doing It - Top 11 of 2011

Okay, so I didn't want to be left out...everyone else is posting their top posts for the year, so I thought I would check mine out as well.  And just to be dumb different, I'm posting my top ELEVEN for 2011. It's been a super fast year, and filled with lots of yummy food.  Which explains why my pants are so tight....New Year's Resolutions anyone?!

 
Bacon Wrapped Green Bean Bundles (bacon is really popular)


Slow Cooked Sticky Chicken


Easter Cupcakes (one of my favorites this year too!)


Low Sugar/low carb Chocolate Eclair Cake


Biscoff Cookie Dough Dip (Biscoff = favorite find of the year!)


Strawberry Zucchini Marmalade


Homemade 'King's Hawaiian' Bread


Deep Dish Cookie Pie (baking with chickpeas - another favorite discovery this year!)


Low Carb Pizza Casserole


Low Carb Homemade 'Thin Mints'


Easy Chicken & 'Dumplings' in the crockpot

Now I'm hungry.  Thanks to everyone who has supported my blogging efforts this year.  It's been a fun journey and one my family has appreciated (for the most part).  I've been slack recently, slipping back into old habits of reaching for convenience items and quick fixes - so I'm definitely going to be making an effort to do better.  More fresh ingredients and meal planning for 2012! And working out....lots of working out.  (I hope)  Gotta lose these extra pounds so I can be a hot mama this year too. L-O-L!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Glazed Meyer Lemon Almond Cookies

Christmas is over?! What!?  How? When?  What happened?!  The past several days are a blur.  It came fast and went fast and I don't feel like I've had one peaceful, restful moment!  Since the holidays did go so quickly, I didn't get half the baking done that I wanted....so I'm still at it!  But only until the end of the week...then those New Year's resolutions will be strictly enforced.  For at least 72 hours.
If you are ready to kick the New Year off with something a little different, then this is the cookie for you.  It's kinda like a shortbread cookie, with a kick of delicious lemon.  Meyer lemons really do live up to their hype.  This is my first time trying them, and I'm a fan.  However, I'm sure regular lemons would work in this, as would limes or oranges.  I'm pretty much loving all things citrus right now!
Aren't they pretty lemons?
 
and they give the glaze a nice little bite. 
and you can always add some bling for special occasions. (My daughter helped decorate!)

Glazed Meyer Lemon Almond Cookies from Small Kitchen College

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup almond meal (I ground almonds in my food processor until fine; but could use store bought too)1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons grated zest from 3-4 meyer lemons
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons juice from 3-4 meyer lemons
In a large bowl, beat softened butter on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about one minute. Add ½ cup confectioners sugar, beat on low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl and add vanilla and almond extracts. Mix on medium-high speed until incorporated.
Add the all-purpose flour, almond flour, lemon zest and salt - mix on medium-low speed for another minute or so until it starts to come together.
Form dough into a ball, cover with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Roll chilled dough (about a tablespoon) into balls and place about ½” apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Pat down the tops a little (they don't really spread) and bake until golden brown on bottom, about 15-20 minutes. Cool cookies 20-30 minutes before glazing.
To make the glaze, mix sugar and lemon juice together in a small bowl until smooth. Dip the tops of the cookies in the glaze, and set aside on a wire rack to set, about 15 minutes.
I'm linking this recipe up at Joy in my Kitchen for Ingredient Spotlight: Citrus!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - baking disaster #115

Sometimes baking without eggs just doesn't.work.

More Teacher Gifts

My kids are finally getting out of school.  I'm afraid it is going to come a day when Christmas is no more than an optional teacher workday on the school calendar.  But that's a different rant story all together.  We got the teacher gifts together, and since it was late at night (b/c do I ever do anything ahead of time?! No.) the lighting is pretty bad.  Since I had several teacher gifts to do this year, we kept it cheap simple.  Hopefully, it really is the thought that counts!
I'm pretty sure I saw something like this on Pinterest, except I think the cup had Crystal Light packets in it.  Of course, I couldn't find it in the gazillion pins I have.  Anyways...I found these cups at a reasonable price and filled them with Starbucks Via Iced Coffee packets, some candy, Crystal Light, and a little crocheted wreath pin.
My crochet skillz are limited, but I think these are cute.  Add a safety pin to the back and you have a Christmas pin!  I started out trying to make a Christmas tree, but that proved too complicated :P

Today my plan is to make a few simple treats and wrap, wrap, wrap!  After taking the kids to the dentist of course.  A mother's work is never done.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Homemade 'King's Hawaiian' Bread (& teacher gift)

Have you ever had King's Hawaiian bread?  It's delicious, and my girls absolutely love it.  Problem is, it contains eggs, so my son can't eat it.  Therefore, I don't buy it very often.  Plus, it's a little pricey.

The other day, while searching for a bread to make for my son's preschool teachers, I stumbled across this one for Decadent Sweet Milk Bread.  I was intrigued since it called for sweetened condensed milk, and I pretty much love anything with sweetened condensed milk.  I used my bread machine to make the dough, but it's not necessary, or you can make the entire loaf in the machine.  I divided the dough and made 4 mini loaves.  It rose great, and the best part was that I was only planning on giving away 3 of them :D  You see where I'm going with this right?  My oldest daughter and I felt compelled to cut into the freshly baked 4th loaf, b/c you never want to give something away not knowing how it tastes!

I paired the mini loaves of bread with a small jar of "Christmas Marmalade" - I figured no one really needed to know that the green flecks were zucchini ;) - for my son's teachers.

My daughter took one bite, and with a mouthful, she said, ohmygahhh, this is soooo good.  I told her to swallow her food and then she said "It tastes just like King's Hawaiian!!"  That was one happy girl.  She asked me to make another loaf the next day, just for us.  And I did.  Because it was awesome.  And it was easy to make!  and it contains no eggs...score, score, SCORE!
My first time "braiding" bread...it needs some work.

Decadent Sweet Milk Bread (or Homemade 'King's Hawaiian'
source: Frugal Dr. Mom

1 cup of water
½ cup of sweetened condensed milk *I used fat-free
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of butter
3 1/3 cups of bread flour*
2 teaspoons of yeast
Put ingredients in bread machine and set for dough cycle. When complete, remove and separate into three sections. Roll each out like snakes and mesh ends together. Braid and press ends together. Place in baking dish and allow to rise for 25-30 minutes. (Here's a little trick: before braiding your bread, heat your oven to 175 degrees and then turn off. Put your braided bread in the warmed oven to rise.) Brush melted butter or egg white on top after rising. Bake at 340 for 30-45 minutes, until top is golden brown. 

*The first time I made this, I used all-purpose flour and a teaspoon of vital wheat gluten. The second time I used bread flour.  It was delicious both times, so I don't think it makes much difference.


I'm planning on making rolls with this dough next time, and I'm going to take a loaf to my parents' house for Christmas Eve Brunch, and I think I'm going to make a loaf for my neighbors as well. Yes, this is definitely a keeper in the Mo'Betta house!

I'm linking this recipe up with the following linkys - It's a Blog Party, All the Small Stuff , 33 Shades of Green,  Blessed With Grace, From Mess Hall to Bistro, Eat at Home

Easy Chicken and Dumplings in the Crockpot

Is everyone up to their eyeballs in cooking and baking and wrapping and all that comes along with the Christmas season?!  Not to mention my kids aren't even out of school yet.  They go until WEDNESDAY!  How freakin' ridiculous.  So it's still the usual routine, on top of everything else.  And teacher gifts....well, that's another post.  I hope they aren't expecting a whole lot, b/c Christmas has just come much to fast for me this year!  So, my point to this little rant is this - we're busy.  But we still gotta eat.  And even though I could get by with a bowl of cereal, my kids generally expect a little more.

I figured this would be a good time to share this super easy, yet pretty darn tasty, Chicken and 'Dumplings', made right in the crockpot - or slowcooker - whatever floats your boat.
Ok, so it doesn't look like much...but it's comfort in a bowl.  The trick is, one, it all cooks in the slow cooker and two, the dumplings are actually flour tortillas!  No rolling out dough, or preparing Anne's - nope, just slice up some tortillas and you're golden.  I first saw this idea over at Eat at Home.  I was intrigued since we love chicken and dumplings, but I've never wanted to mess with making dumplings from scratch.  This allowed us to have a warm, yummy meal with minimal effort.  I love minimal effort.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 1/2 - 2 lbs chicken tenders (can start these from frozen)
  • 6 carrots, about 1 lb., sliced *I omitted
  • 1-2 stalks celery, chopped *I omitted
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup *I used 'homemade' - recipe follows
  • 2 cans chicken broth 
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 flour tortillas, cut into squares
  • 1 Tbs. flour
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Place chicken tenders in slow cooker, either thawed or frozen.
  2. Add carrots and celery to slow cooker.
  3. Stir cream soup, chicken broth, milk, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper together. Pour over other ingredients in crock.
  4. Cook on high 7-8 hours.
  5. Remove chicken and chop or pull apart with 2 forks.
  6. Toss flour tortilla pieces with flour. Stir into soup 30 minutes before serving.
My notes -  I had cooked chicken breast in the freezer, as well as broth, so I used that.  I omitted the carrots and celery, b/c I've never had that in my chicken & dumplings (or "pastry" as we like to call it down South!).  I also have started using a homemade version of cream of chicken.  I think it's less carbs, but I don't know for sure.  I need to look that up.  I found it on Pinterest.

1 cup non-fat dried milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup bouillon (if you have cubes you have to smash them up)
    You can use whatever kind you like (ie, beef, veggie) *I used chicken
4 Tablespoons freeze dried minced onions *I used 2 T.
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon pepper
(For the equivalent of one can of condensed cream soup, mix 1/3 cup dry mix with 1 1/4 cup water. Cook until thick)
So there you go.  Free up your oven and stove top for all those Christmas goodies, and free up your time by using the crock pot, and still have a nice warm meal on the table for the fam. I know, right?!  My awesomeness amazes me too sometimes.  hahaha.  

Seriously - my awesomeness needs some work.  I haven't baked hardly anything.  I've only wrapped a small portion of my gifts (and the dog PEED on the first two, so I had to start over....I know, gross. But in my world, there is always piss, poop or vomit involved somewhere.) and did I mention my kids are STILL in school?!  Yeah, I'm nuts.
'fa la la la la, la la, la, la'


I'm linking up with these folks today....
Everything Under the MoonHunk of Meat Mondays


Friday, December 16, 2011

Bisquick Triple Chip Cookies

I made cookies the other day.  You wouldn't know, as there is no proof.  Well, wait, there is this...
Out of an entire batch of cookies, all I have a picture of is the dough.

Soooo, if you want to see really mouth-watering cookie pics, you'll have to check out the original post at Plain Chicken.  'Cuz she didn't forget to take pics.  Of course, maybe her cookies weren't devoured at warp speed.  Number One professed these to be the best cookies I've ever made.  (Except for the Dark Chocolate Chip with Bacon)  I'm not sure if I should be flattered or offended.  I mean, they are made with Bisquick!  I have to admit, they are pretty tasty, and the best part was that they came together very quickly.  They are a fat, chewy cookie that is a little crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.  Yummers.

Bisquick Triple Chip Cookies 
adapted from Plain Chicken (my changes in italics)

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
2 3/4 cups Heart Healthy Bisquick baking mix
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup butterscotch chips
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup nuts, chopped, (optional) *I omitted

Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, mix butter, sugar, vanilla and egg. Stir in Bisquick mix, chips and nuts (if using). Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart; flatten slightly. Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.

I don't know about you, but it's nice to have a quick and easy recipe to fall back on.  The only bad thing is my little man couldn't eat them b/c of the egg.  Next time I'll try subbing out the egg and see how they turn out.  I can't believe I haven't done hardly any holiday baking.  It makes me sad!  I just haven't had time.  BUT - I will be making sausage balls and fudge very soon.  And I have to do something with the bag of Meyer lemons I just had to have.  Could someone clone me please?

Update: I have also made these with coconut oil instead of butter! Check them out here.

Participating in these recipe linkys - It's a Keeper Thursday, Full Plate Thursday,  Friday Potluck, Simply Delish, Sweet Tooth Friday, Sweets for Saturday

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Reindeer Noses

I wanted a little something to give out to the kids in my son's 3 y/o preschool class.  I decided on "Reindeer Noses" b/c it was cute, quick and easy. (and I would get to eat the extra candy. Always a bonus.)

I found a printable bag topper from Puddles and Gumboots, which was awesome, b/c it kept me from trying to figure it out on my own.  I used Whoppers for the brown noses and red Pretzel M&M's for Rudolph's nose.
My bags are a little ghetto, but I did NOT feel like making a trip to Michael's in search for cute little bags that are just going to be thrown away anyway.

Also, instead of using cardstock, I used regular construction paper.  I just cut it to fit in my printer and it worked great.  I guess I should mention that I was putting these together at 9pm last night, so I didn't exactly have time to go shopping for supplies.  You can tell a lot of planning and forethought went into these gifts.  Whatever.  The end result was still pretty cute I thought!
They also look cute sitting in a bowl.  Notice there are no green M&M's.  The bag came with a mix of red & green.  I wonder what happened to them?  Someone ate them.  It wasn't me. *I lie*

This bowl was also quickly devoured as soon as the kids got home from school.

So much for having reindeer noses laying around the house!

I'm linking this recipe up with Blue Cricket Design,Wow Me Wednesday at Ginger Snap CraftsAt Home with Haley, Lady Behind the Curtain,  These Chicks Cooked, Miz Helen's Country CottageEKat's Kitchen, Simply Delish, Feeding Four, It's a Keeper, Bacon Time with the Hungry Hungry Hypo, Sweet Tooth Friday, Sweet Tooth Saturday,Six Sisters' Stuff, The Sweet Details for Savory Sunday

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

{semi} Wordless Wednesday - In Memory of...

 
Our Christmas tree would not be complete without these crocheted ornaments.  They were made by my husband's grandmother and given to us when we were first married.  Not only do we have ornaments, but we have stockings, decorations, and each of my children have at least 2 blankets....all made by their great-granny.

Granny passed away this year and this will be my husband's first Christmas without her.  I know it is hard for him to look around and see so many reminders of her, but it is also very comforting and special to have these things made by her own two hands, that we will be able to pass down to our children.  So even though she is not physically with us, her spirit lives on.

Merry Christmas Granny!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Great Holiday Deals on Android!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sprint for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

What do you get the person that has everything?!  How about stuff their stocking with a smart phone, like the Android™ powered EVO 4G devices?  I love my Android and right now, Sprint is having a 3-day sale from 12/12-12/14.  Check out the great deals HERE!  Only Sprint is offering Android™ powered EVO 4G devices for FREE!  Plus, get waived activation for new lines and free shipping - see more details HERE!

Make your loved one's holiday merry and bright with a brand new smart phone from Sprint!  You have to hurry, because this sale is almost over.  Head on over to http://www.sprint.com/landings/holidayoffers/ and get all the details!  Now I am really wanting to update my Android....these newer models are even more awesome than the one I have now!

**and completely as a side note - Did you know that Sprint is ranked #3 in the Top 500 Greenest Companies in America by Newsweek 2011 Green Rankings?  Pretty impressive.

Do you have a "smart phone"?  What's your favorite feature?  I love the picture quality, the touch screen, the slide out keyboard, and the fact that I can keep up with email, blogs, and all my social media right from my phone!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Snowman Wreath

So here is the thing about Pinterest....it inspires you.  To cook, clean, organize, and be crafty.  Usually I pin and gaze longingly at all the things I would love to do, but am either too lazy, too broke or too....uh....not crafty.  However, when I saw this wreath from Sew Many Ways, I just had to give it a try.  It seemed simple enough and it was SO cute!

The end result -
sho'nuff...easy, peasy!

I bought 3 wreaths from Wal-Mart.  The bottom one (I forget what size it was, but it was around 5.00) is the largest, and the next two are actually the same size.  They didn't have a smaller one for the head so I took the medium sized one and because it was so cheap was able to squeeze it together and make it smaller.  At $2.48 you can't really expect durability, but it worked.  I had a little snowman kit from last winter - so I borrowed it's hat and arms; added a scarf, and voila!
I love it!

And LOOK!
It's SNOWING!

Okay, not really.  (Were the blue skies a giveaway?!) But Picnik has some fun holiday features for you to play with...like I have nothing else I need to be doing!! (see yesterday's post!)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Treat Round Up


Uhhh, y'all?  It's ALMOST CHRISTMAS!  Freak the freak out.  (Sorry, too much Victorious on Disney today or maybe it's Nick...whatever)  But seriously, what is it?  Like 12 freakin' days?!  HOW did this happen?  I'm not ready.  You can't see me, but I'm in a panic over here.  I still have shopping to do.  I still don't know what to get some people.  My Christmas cards haven't even arrived yet.  Who knows when they will actually get addressed and then mailed.  Holy shizzz.  (deep cleansing breath....)

Okay.  First things first.  I have a list.  I'm on it as soon as I can deposit my children where they need to be.  As for you guys....well, I really want to be in the kitchen baking away.  Sharing cute little gifts and yummy recipes.  But for now, that.ain't.happenin'.  What I can do however, is give you a run down of the super quick and easy (but delicious) treats I made last year.  Many of which I'll be making again very soon.  It might be midnight on Christmas Eve before I get to it, but I'll do it.  I'm a woman on mission.  Must.Eat.Sweet.

Let's do this - 
The cookie with a hundred different names - Nut Balls, Snowballs, Mexican Wedding Cookies, etc.  A favorite around here.
Christmas 'Crack' - it's that addictive
and so easy it's ridiculous (made with crackers/butter/sugar)
Homemade "Twix" Bars - peanut free
LOVE these!
Pretzel treats - also a favorite with the kids and oh, so easy!
it's not Christmas without it. Requires a candy thermometer for me to make it since I have no idea how to determine the "hard ball vs soft ball" stage of candy making.
Oreos. Need I say more?
"Reindeer Mix" aka 'White Trash Candy' - which may be more appropriate, but I think I'll keep telling the kids it is reindeer mix.  The 1st thing my daughter requested when I asked her what we should make this year.
Egg free Gingerbread Men (this dough was easy to work and tasted really good)
Peanut free "Blossoms" or Kiss Cookies

You can check my Pinterest Boards here and here (oh, and here!) for more recipes and ideas!

What about you guys?  Are you ready?  Maybe I need to switch to decaf.  And add a little Valium in the next cookie I bake.  Speaking of cookies...I made some this weekend.  And we ate every.one. of them before I took any pics. *sigh*

"We wish you a Merry Christmas.  We wish you a Merry Christmas.  We wish you a Merry Christmas.....and a Happy New Year!!!!"

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