Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hot Ham Dips on Homemade Slider Buns

I hope everyone has fared well from Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy. It looks like she did quite a bit of damage in some areas.  We had lots of wind and rain. And rain....and rain.  I thought we were about out of the woods, when I noticed how much standing water we had in our yard.  And then one of the toilets wouldn't flush. Then we discovered standing water in our detached garage.  To make a long story short, our septic system was starting to back up.  So, I packed up the kids and dog, and headed inland  to the parentals.  No way was I going to stay in a house with non-functioning toilets and 3 kids. So anyway, I'm posting from my parents. Who just got internet service back...what did we do prior to the internet?!  So, now that everyone's mind is in the sewer....let's re-direct shall we?!

Seriously, go to your happy place, b/c these sandwiches deserve your full not-influenced-by-sewage-talk attention!  They were delicous!
This is yet another recipe by Plain Chicken. I love her recipes b/c they are so easy, and kid-friendly.  French dip sandwiches are a favorite of mine, so I was intrigued by the use of ham instead.  Let me tell ya, it is a great variation!

Hot Ham Dips 
slightly adapted from Plain Chicken

1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 tsp garlic powder
6 pretzel slider buns or 4 ciabatta rolls, split 
*I used homemade buns, recipe below
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 pound thinly sliced ham
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) beef consommé or beef broth *I used a packet of Charlie's Pride Au Jus mix
1/2 tsp garlic powder *I omitted

In a small bowl, melt butter in the microwave. Add 1 tsp garlic powder.

Place rolls on a baking sheet; brush cut sides with garlic butter. Sprinkle with cheese. Broil 3-4 in. from the heat for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted.

In a large saucepan, combine broth consommé and 1/2 tsp garlic powder mix Au Jus according to package directions (you just add water!); bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.  Place ham into beef consommé and garlic Au Jus. Heat ham for 30-60 seconds, until slightly warm.  Using tongs, place ham on rolls. Serve sandwiches with remaining broth for dipping.

And check out my cute little buns! (In my dreams. haha) 
These also come together pretty quickly, and are SO good.

Speedy Slider Buns 
*adapted from here

2 Tablespoons Active Dry Yeast

1 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Warm Water

1/3 Cup Olive Oil

1/4 Cup Sugar
1 Egg *or egg replacer; I used Ener-G
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 1/2 to 3 3/4 Cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Stir in the oil and sugar, and let the mixture stand for 5 minutes.
  • Add the egg replacer, salt, and 3 1/2 cups of flour.  Combine until it forms a soft dough. Add the additional 1/4 cup of flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands (if you need a little more, that is okay too). Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes or so.
  • Divide the dough into 16 pieces, shape each into a small, thick disc (about the size of a biscuit - a regular not a Grands!) and place them on silicone mat lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart.  
  • Preheat oven to 425ºF. Lightly cover the balls of dough and let them rest for about 10 minutes (or longer if you wish).
  • Pop them in the oven and bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Verdict? As I said, these are DELISH! Everyone loved them. Mr. Three, of course, had his without ham, and garlic butter.  So, yes, he had a plain roll, with plain rolled up ham on the side. Don't ask. These are definitely a keeper, and will be made again soon.  They made a great dinner, but would also be great for parties!

Speaking of parties, I'm linking up with these!  Naptime CreationsMandy's Recipe BoxIt's a Blog PartyWeiner Tales33 Shades of GreenBlessed with GraceSimply Sugar and Gluten FreeOur Delightful Home, Adorned from Above, Lady Behind the Curtain, Tessa the Domestic Diva, Ginger Snap Crafts, The Newlyweds

Monday, October 29, 2012

Homemade Caramel Apples

Or in our case, hurricane preparation. The weather has been super yucky...days of wind and rain, so to help entertain the kids, and have something yummy to eat, we decided to make our annual caramel apples.  The kids always love doing this!
My 4 y/o was so funny, he meticulously placed individual sprinkles and M&M's on his apple!  While the rest of us rolled ours in pretty much everything available.
We used crushed Whoppers, M&M's, sprinkles, pretzels, and chopped dark chocolate.
And then, of course, even better than decorating the apples...is eating them!

The caramel recipe is SO easy, and has 3 ingredients!  I've posted it before, but figured I would post again with our newest pics!

Caramel Apple Recipe 
from 101 Cookbooks

6 - 8 small apples, unwaxed, cold  
(*I used 4 large Granny Smiths, and have a little caramel leftover)

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/wax paper.
Push a lollipop or popsicle stick deep into each apple (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. 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 on your candy thermometer. 

To stop the caramel from cooking, 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.

 Place each apple on the wax/parchment lined baking sheets and allow the caramel to cool, but get your decorations on before it sets :-)

As far as Hurricane Sandy, we were fortunate where I am in eastern NC. Some localized flooding, but nothing unusual. I hope everyone  is safe wherever you are!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Breakfast 'Bumpy' Cakes

I know I don't usually post on Saturday, but it is one of those windy/rainy stay-in-the-house-all-day kind of days.  We are bracing for Hurricane Sandy...which I think is now Tropical Storm Sandy, and with the wind...I'm sure I will lose internet service before anything else.  (because my internet sucks)  This is my first storm since we've moved to the coast, so I'm hoping Sandy dissipates pretty quickly!

Anyways....bumpy cakes? Yeah, I didn't come up with the name. I think it is very much like a German Pancake.  It has the taste of a pancake, and the texture of, of.....I'm not sure what to compare it too! It's different, but it's good.  As a matter of fact, Miss Two has requested that I make it again. Always a good sign.

It is convenient, b/c you can make it in a casserole dish....
and you can customize it any way you want.  We added chocolate chips to some, powdered sugar to others, (or BOTH since we are sugar-fiends).  You can add syrup, fruit, whatever!

Breakfast Bumpy Cake from Pennies on a Platter
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used Smart Balance)
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I used 1/2 tsp sea salt)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • toppings of choice (syrup, powdered sugar,chocolate chips,etc.)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Melt butter in the bottom of a 9- x 13-inch pan in the oven. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a blender, food processor or mixer. Pour into the hot buttered pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until high bumps appear and the top is lightly browned. (My 'bumps' deflated quickly)
I wish I had a plate full right now.  With bacon.  And maybe some grits.  Maybe I should go eat breakfast.
Hope everyone stays safe this weekend!

I'm linking up over at Six Sisters' Stuff!

I guess it's pretty obvious that this post contains affiliate links ;) Something new I'm trying out!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cheater Chinese Chicken

Yes, please!  

Check out my post for this, plus other "cheater" recipes over at Eat at Home!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dark Chocolate Chess Pie

When I get stressed, I like to cook. So, when my Grandma passed away a couple of weeks ago, I found myself in the kitchen the next day, cooking away.  I wanted to take some food to my Grandma's house, because that's what Southern women do.  Whenever someone dies, the grieving family is taken food. Sometimes LOTS of food...but hey, who am I to argue with tradition.  Besides, as I've mentioned before, my Grandma was all about food.  Whenever I would tell her about something I had done (an event/wedding/etc), her first question was always "what'd ya have good to eat?"  And obviously, that is the most important thing.
updated pic 11/27/13
I decided to make a couple of things, one was my favorite Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup, b/c chicken soup is comfort food and half my family was sick with colds/allergies), and something chocolate.  Because chocolate is my comfort food!  I decided upon Chocolate Chess Pie, b/c that was one of my husband's grandmother's specialties. It just seemed fitting.  I had pinned the recipe a while back since I had planned on making it for the holidays, and the pictures are definitely drool worthy.  The picture below...not so much.  I completely forgot about taking pictures, given the circumstances, but happened to remember to get this one, when I saw the last lonely piece of pie sitting in a pan with a couple slices of coconut pie! (I've since added some updated pics!)
(Instagram pic...I am under kimslittlelife if interested in following)

new pic 11/27/13 with pastry pie crust

Dark Chocolate Chess Pie 

Recipe slightly adapted from A Little Bit Crunchy...

1 stick unsalted butter
3 tablespoons Hershey's Dark Cocoa
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

*Crust - Store bought chocolate graham cracker crust (see original recipe for homemade crust)

Melt the butter and cocoa together over medium heat.  Pour into a bowl and whisk in the sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt.  When the crust has cooled for 20 minutes, Pour the filling into the crust and bake in a 325 F oven for about 40 minutes, until the top is set. (Some people like Chocolate Chess Pie very ooey-gooey. I prefer mine to be fully set...it is delicious either way!)

*The Chocolate Chess Pie I am familiar with has always been in a pastry shell pie crust.  I wanted to try the graham cracker crust, but I didn't really care for it.  I think an Oreo pie crust would be good.  Because you can never go wrong with Oreos, right?!

Verdict?  Several family members said it was delicious.  One of my uncle's actually used the phrase "award-winning"...and we don't sugar-coat things in my family (correction, we sugar coat everything, just not our words! Yep, we believe in brutal honesty.)  Personally, other than the crust not being quite what I would like, I thought it was delicious.  And that last piece?  I ate it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Parmesan, Roasted Garlic and Basil Bread

I have an elderly couple that lives next door, that keeps THE most immaculate yard.  Everything is perfect.  All the grass is uniform in color and length, the flowers look like a painting, there is not a stray leaf or weed anywhere to be found. It is quite impressive.  Apparently, not only are they adept at keeping a gorgeous yard and beautiful flowers, they also have a little garden area in the back, that is so well maintained that it looks like part of the landscaping.  (My gardens always look like a painting too.  A painting done by my 4 y/o that is.)  Anyway, not long after we moved in, my green thumb neighbor brought over several bulbs of garlic that he grew.  Not a pound cake or cookies, but welcoming and neighborly just that same :-)  Either that, or we need to be protected from the vampires that we have yet to discover...but I'm on the lookout.
I decided to roast a few bulbs, and did a search of my favorite blogs for a recipe to use it in.  
Of course, I was not disappointed and found a winning recipe!

Parmesan, Roasted Garlic and Basil Bread from For the Love of Cooking 

  • 1 head of roasted garlic 
  • 1 1/8 cups of warm water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp butter
Roast the garlic then let cool. Once the garlic is cool, remove each clove from the peeling and chop (Mine was like a paste almost. No chopping required! I just squeezed out the cloves and mashed with a fork.) Place all dough ingredients (through yeast) in the bread machine in the order listed. Put the yeast in a well in the center of the flour. Select the dough cycle and press start.  Once the bread machine stops (it was one and a half hours on my machine), remove the pan from the bread machine and pour the dough onto a well floured surface. (My dough was very wet and sticky, and I added more flour until it was workable.) Divide dough into 20 small balls or 10 larger balls. Roll each ball into a rope then place on a baking sheet lined with asilpat mat coated with cooking spray.  Divide dough into 4 equal pieces and place in mini bread loaf pans.  (I made 4.)

Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 40 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Coat the breadsticks mini loaves with melted butter (I skipped this step) then place into the oven and bake for 18-22 minutes, or until golden brown. Time will vary depending on what you are making -  rolls, sticks, mini loaves, etc.

Remove from the oven (this is where I rubbed butter on the tops of the loaves) and enjoy!  I shared a loaf with my neighbors.  Now they have given me a butternut squash....not sure what I am going to do with it yet!

Even my kids enjoyed this bread, and the garlic flavor is very mild from roasting it.  If you are like me, and have never roasted a whole head of garlic...it's easy!  Just chop off the top to expose the cloves inside, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, wrap in foil, place on a baking sheet (b/c mine dripped thru the creases in the foil) and stick in the oven at 400 degrees and bake for about 30 mins.  I definitely prefer my garlic (and all veggies, really) roasted!

I'm linking up today with Naptime Creations, Mandy's Recipe Box, It's a Blog Party, Weiner Tales, 33 Shades of Green, Blessed with Grace, Premeditated Leftovers, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Our Delightful Home

Monday, October 22, 2012

Beef Tips in the Crock Pot

That's just a big pile of comfort food right there!  The great thing is, the beef tips were prepared in the crock-pot.  Just throw everything in and forget about it!  My favorite way to prepare dinner ;-)  The other great thing is they were flavorful, tender, and were approved by 2 out 3 picky children.  (and we all know Mr. Three's vote doesn't count since he will only eat about 4 things in the universe.)
Speaking of 4 things, that's all the ingredients you need to make this!

(Crock Pot) Beef Tips in Mushroom Sauce 

recipe source: LaaLoosh 

2 pounds lean chuck – cut in 1-2 inch pieces (I used beef stew meat in pic)
1 can 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup
1 pkg. onion soup mix
1 can Diet Sprite or 7up *or Sierra Mist
*You could also add any veggies you want. 
Put meat in crock pot. Pour soup & onion soup mix over meat. Add Diet Sprite/7up/Sierra Mist. Cook in crock pot all day on low (or high for at least 4 hours). Turn off and let sit for 30 minutes before serving. {If you want thicker gravy, you could remove meat, place gravy in a skillet with a little cornstarch and heat until thickened. I didn't do this.)
I served the beef tips with mashed potatoes (instant...they were not good!) and cornbread...which was delish, and some not-pictured green beans, canned (I was in a hurry that night!). 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole

I am generally not a huge fan of baked spaghetti.  It seems like when I have made it in the past, it was always  kind of dry, or 'paste-y' if that makes since.  However, when I saw this Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti over at Plain Chicken, I thought I would give it a try.  I am so glad I did!  It was the best baked spaghetti I have ever had!  I was pleasantly surprised, and I will definitely be making this again.  I made just a few changes to the original recipe (in italics).

Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole 

12 oz spaghetti *I used Barilla Plus - a higher protein pasta w/a lower glycemic index
1 (28 ounce) jars prepared spaghetti sauce
1 lb lean ground beef *I omitted & added turkey pepperoni instead
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced
8 ounces cream cheese *I used fat free
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated *I used a little extra :-)

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.

Cook spaghetti according to directions on packet.  Drain and place cooked spaghetti in bowl.  Add cream cheese, Italian Seasoning and minced garlic.  Stir until cream cheese is melted and the spaghetti is thoroughly coated. 

Add pepperoni to spaghetti sauce.

Lightly grease a 9x13" pan.  Spread a small amount of sauce in the bottom of the dish.  Put spaghetti on top of sauce and top with remaining sauce.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbly.
Verdict? The end result is a warm, creamy, cheesy plate of yumminess!  

I'm linking up today with Simple Living and Eating, Just Us Four; Bacon Time with Hungry, Hungry, Hypo; Six Sisters' Stuff, Not Your Ordinary Recipes, Simply Sweet Home, Rattlebridge Farm, Miss Information, Foodie Friends Friday, Close to Home, Mommy's Sweet Confessions, Finding Joy in My Kitchen

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What's for lunch?!

If you follow me on Instagram (kimslittlelife), you know that this was my lunch...
mmmmmmm! Aren't you jealous?!

Don't fret, because it can be yours!  It is the new Grand Turkey Club from Arby's!
(and just to make you drool a little more....the Grand Turkey Club is piled high with sliced roast turkey, melted Swiss cheese, pepper bacon, leaf lettuce, tomato, and mayo - served on a toasted Harvest Wheat Bun! Holla!)

Of course, no Arby's meal would be complete without their signature curly fries! I love those things.  I also LOVE the Arby's sauce...so I drenched my turkey club in it.  I also may have dipped my fries in it.  Don't judge. So.Good.

I don't know about y'all, but as soon as the weather starts turning a little cooler, I start thinking turkey (and pumpkin. and cranberry sauce. and lattes.  Uhm, I might think about food a little too much)  BUT, just think...fresh sliced roast turkey...anytime you want!  No waiting for mama to cook the Thanksgiving turkey, just swing through your local Arby's drive thru :-)  What?!  Don't look at me like that...I don't know how to cook a turkey! 

Seriously, the temps are getting cooler, and what says Fall more than turkey?!  Have yourself a quick, but warm and filling meal with the Grand Turkey Club. I enjoyed mine! Want to learn more about what Arby's has to offer? Like them on Facebook....

(They are on Twitter too!)

Now that I have a belly full of turkey and curly fries (and BACON!!), I'm going to indulge in another of my favorite Fall cravings for dessert.  Any guesses? Yes, it's none other than the Pumpkin Spice Latte!  Besides, I need a pick-me-up.  What is it they say about turkey? That it makes you sleepy?  Yes, that sounds like a good excuse.  Of course, I'm sleepy every afternoon, so I can't exactly blame the turkey.  I think I can actually place the blame on the fact that I am a mother of three. One of which is a 4 y/o who refuses to sleep in his own bed.  But that's another blog post all together....

What are your favorite Fall cravings?

Disclaimer - I received a $20 gift card from Arby's through SocialMoms to try the Grand Turkey Club sandwich. All opinions are 100% my own.  If chosen by SocialMoms, I will also receive points for this submission.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Halloween Party Pinspirations!

My 4 y/o son will be having a preschool party for Halloween.  I volunteered to do the treat bags.  I'm not sure why, when I could have just said "put me down for the plates & napkins!"  But noooo, in my mind I'm a Martha Stewart clone; in reality...I will put it off until the last minute, frantically stuffing treat bags the night before, in total stress out mode b/c nothing is as cute as I pictured it in my mind. All the while screaming "why didn't I volunteer for paper plates!!"  Is this just me?  Am I all alone in Crazyville?  Just curious.

Now, these kids are 4 years old, so they are not really going to care what is in their bags, as long as they can eat it or play with it.  However, I can't just throw some mess in a bag and call it a day.  Nope, it has to be all creative and cutesified.  (Cute-si-fied -- totally a word I don't care what spellcheck says).  Thank goodness for me there is Pinterest!

Here are a few things I have pinned for the treat bags so far -
Tootsie Pops dressed up as ghosts for Halloween - fun to make with the kids & then handout to friends
http://pinterest.com/pin/101612535313767253/  Ghost Lollipops by disneymike on Flickr

i think i'll do these for preschool class!
http://pinterest.com/pin/101612535313710417/  Making Memories...

Pinned Image
http://pinterest.com/pin/101612535313640297/  Our Best Bites

Witch's Broom
http://pinterest.com/pin/101612535313834911/  Hershey's

A Window into My Heart: Witches' Hats
http://pinterest.com/pin/101612535313640301/ A Window into My Heart

I also have some toys to add.  I bought white lunch bags, and was thinking about either printing on them (I saw somewhere you could do that) or printing out some labels...not sure yet. Any suggestions for either the inside or outside of the bags?  I am going to try really hard not to wait until the last minute to get them done!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Slow Cooker Garlic & Brown Sugar Chicken

I'm back!  One thing my grandma truly loved was food, and she would not want me to stop sharing recipes.  I may not have adopted her Southern ways of cooking, (no fat-back or collard greens for me, thank you) but I do share her love of all things food.  I even taught her a thing or two...for example, she thought she hated pumpkin until my pumpkin breads and muffins :-)

Today, I wanted to share a crock-pot recipe.  I love using my crock pot, and have been trying lots of different recipes to build up a good rotation.  For a while, it seemed like everything I slow-cooked (mainly chicken!) always came out tasting the same...bland.  Of course, a lot of the recipes have had similar ingredients, b/c I just can't be too creative with my family.  They have really boring taste buds ;)  This chicken dish, found at Six Sister's Stuff, was a hit with everyone. Except Mr. Three, who eats nothing worth mentioning.
A huge thanks to everyone who has come over from Pinterest! I'd love for you to become a regular around here :-) You can receive my posts via email, or Bloglovin'; follow on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and Google +.  Please link back if re-posting on your own blog, I'm finding my picture everywhere with no credit/link given :-(  It's just common courtesy folks!

Slow Cooker Brown Sugar & Garlic Chicken 

adapted from Six Sisters' Stuff

4-6 chicken breasts *I used 2 lbs boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1 cup packed brown sugar *I used 3/4 cup
2/3 cup vinegar  *I used apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup lemon-lime soda *I used Sprite Zero
2-3 Tablespoons minced garlic *I used about 1 1/2 T. fresh minced garlic
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 Tablespoons corn starch
2 Tablespoons water

Red pepper flakes (optional) 


  • Spray slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. (Crock pot liners are also great!)
  • Place chicken (frozen, thawed or fresh) inside slow cooker. 
  • Mix together the sugar, vinegar, soda, garlic, soy sauce, and pepper, and pour over chicken. 
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours. (Frozen chicken will obviously need a longer cook time.)
  • Remove chicken from slow cooker (it should basically fall apart) and pour remaining sauce into a saucepan over high heat. 
  • Mix together corn starch and water, pour into saucepan, and mix well. Let sauce come to a boil and boil for 2-3 minutes, or until it starts to thicken and turns into a glaze. 
  • Remove from heat and let sit for a minute or two (it will continue to thicken as it cools).
  • Sprinkle red pepper flakes on top if desired.  
This can be served over rice or noodles, but we had ours with a baked potato on the side (It's good on top of the potato too!)

Verdict? Everyone enjoyed this.  I liked it because it was not too sweet like some of the other recipes I have tried, and the red pepper flakes gave it a nice little kick.  I bet it would be good with a little sriracha too!  The kids, of course, skipped the spice, and enjoyed it as is.  This, along with Sticky Chicken, will be made again.

I'm linking this up over at - Holly's Stamping Addiction, The Dedicated HouseHomemaker on a Dime, Delightfully Dowling, Skip to My Lou, Making the World Cuter, Project Inspire, Moms Crazy Cooking; The Gooseberry Patch


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