Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Frozen Hot Chocolate

After picking up my first grader from school yesterday she begged me for some ice cream because she was so hot. Now I know that I don't live in a really "hot" place but for us it was hot and we were thirsty. We made this drink instead of having ice cream and it hit the spot. We were all chilling in the August heat. What a great after-school treat. I need to tell my mom to make this for my little sister. She has a thing for hot chocolate.

Frozen Hot Chocolate

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
3 tsp hot chocolate mix
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
3 cups ice
whipping cream (optional)

Use the double boiler method or the microwave to melt the chocolate. Once melted , add the cocoa and sugar, stirring constantly until thoroughly blended. Slowly add 1/2 cup of the milk and stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature.*This is important*

In a blender place the remaining cup of milk, the room temperature chocolate mixture, and the ice. Blend on high speed until smooth and desired consistency.  Pour into a cups and top with whipped cream if desired. Makes about 5 cups.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Lemon Cookies

I must share this recipe I just tried this weekend. Here is the link to where I got it from. They are just what I mentioned earlier about what I love in a great cookie. Crunchy but chewy at the same time. Plus I love that they are lemon. They are light and refreshing. This recipe made only 2 dozen for me. I like to make them a little bigger than what she suggested though:)

Try this recipe. It's a keeper.

Lemon Cookies

½ cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoons baking powder
⅛ teaspoons baking soda
1-½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Whip in vanilla, egg, lemon zest, and juice. Scrape sides and mix again. Stir in all dry ingredients slowly until just combined, excluding the powdered sugar. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again briefly. Pour powdered sugar onto a large plate. Roll a heaping teaspoon of dough into a ball and roll in powdered sugar. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.

Bake for 9-11 minutes or until bottoms begin to barely brown and cookies look matte {not melty or shiny}. Remove from oven and cool cookies about 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

*If using a non-stick darker baking tray, reduce baking time by about 2 minutes. **I had a light pan and mine took 10 minutes to cook.**

Friday, August 26, 2011

Balloon Wreath

This is my lame attempt to convince my daughter that she wants a costume birthday party instead of my little pony. Her birthday is close to Halloween and I want to have an excuse to decorate a lot this year.  Either way, this is a fun decor craft you can do for any holiday or celebration. I got a plain foam wreath from Hobby Lobby and then bought 220 balloons. Half black and half orange. Then some size 20 super-fine sharp pins from the sewing section of Hobby Lobby to attach the balloons to the foam. It didn't take too long. I just folded the balloon in half short wise and pinned it to the wreath. I hope to post a LOT more Halloween crafts soon!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chile Lime Chicken Soft Tacos with Homemade Tortillas

Any meal these days that I can make in a slow cooker is a life saver. This was super easy so fresh and delicious. It's not too spicy. I made them as bean and chicken burritos for the kids they gobbled them up. So nice not to have to make two different meals tonight. BECAUSE this meal was so easy I decided to make my own tortillas. They were WAY easier than I thought they would be to make and cheaper than store bought so win win! Try it.. I dare you:)

After I shredded the chicken

Homemade tortillas
Before I folded it into a soft taco. With some lime juice it was so yummy!

Chile lime chicken soft tacos

1 medium onion, diced
1 4oz can diced green chilies
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder

lime juice from 2-3 limes depending on how juicy they are. Mine weren't too juicy so I used 3
4 boneless chicken breasts, thawed if frozen
1 can fat free refried beans, warmed

one batch of homemade tortillas 

Toppings such as: shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream, sliced olives, guacamole, cilantro, lime wedges

Add chicken and onion to a slow cooker. In a bowl combine green chilies, garlic, chili powder, and lime juice.  Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours. Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred.

Top with hot chicken mixture beans and any other desired toppings.

Homemade Flour Tortillas 

2 1/2 cups flour 
3/4 tsp. Salt
1/4 cup PLUS  2 tablespoons shortnening
3/4 - 1 cup hot water

In a mixer like a kitchenaid fitted with the dough hook, combine flour and salt. Add shortening and combine until crumbly. With the mixer running, slowly add the hot water. Mix until the dough starts to come together from the sides of the bowl. You want the dough to be soft but not too sticky. Heat a large skillet on med-high heat. Take a portion of the dough that will be a small ball in the palm of your hand. Roll the dough ball into a thin circle. Place raw tortilla onto the hot skillet and cook about 1 min on the first side and about 30 seconds on the other side. If they burn too quickly turn your heat down. Place the cooked tortillas on a plate between two paper towels to keep them warm until you serve them. This will make 8-10 tortillas. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


My poor son has been in need of a dresser for a while now. He has had this worn out one with a broken drawer his whole life. Now that I am much more pregnant (30 weeks!!) I got fed up with fixing his drawer day after day. It's time for a new one!! I looked at stores for a new one but didn't find a good kids one.I found this one at a thrift store for $14.99. A little paint and new knobs and it looks good in his room I would say. I just need a lamp now and he will be set.

I sanded it a little and primed it with Kilz primer.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ziti with eggplant sauce

Sorry about this blue plate. It is so bright in this picture. This recipe is a great one for kids because they don't know there is eggplant in the sauce. You get an amazing flavor from roasting the eggplant before pureeing it. Plus it doesn't take too long so try it out!

Ziti with eggplant sauce

1 med to large eggplant, peeled and chopped
about 1/4 cup olive oil to use at different steps in directions
salt and pepper to taste
1 box ziti noodles
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried parsley
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
shredded provolone OR parmigiano cheese for garnish 

Heat oven to 500 degrees. Get water boiling for pasta. Cook as directed on box to al dente. Spread the chopped eggplant on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil all over the eggplant. Generously salt and pepper. Roast eggplant in oven for about 20 min. The last few minutes in the oven, switch oven to broil to get some color on the eggplant. Watch it so it doesn't burn. While that is in the oven, place a large skillet over med heat on the stove. Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to skillet. Add garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add tomatoes, rosemary, red pepper flakes,  parsley and some salt. Stir to combine. When eggplant is done, scrape off pieces into a blender or food processor. Add a little water so it's moist and puree until it's thick and smooth. Add the puree to the tomato sauce. Stir to combine. To serve, combine cooked and drained noodles with the tomato eggplant sauce. Sprinkle cheese on top.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pie

I was on a pie making mission yesterday. I love to make pies. There is something about the whole process that is very stress relieving for me. This one is different from your typical pie but very tasty. It has just enough chocolate to not make it too rich which I appreciate. Out of the pies I made yesterday it was the family favorite. You can serve it with some vanilla ice cream. YUM!

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pie

1 unbaked pastry shell (recipe below) see my tutorial for pie crust here
1-1/4 cups flour 
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup shortening
4-5 tablespoons ice water

Chocolate Filling
1/2 cup water
1-1/2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla

In a saucepan, bring water, chocolate and butter to a boil; boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat add sugar and vanilla. Set aside.

1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk

In a mixing bowl, cream shortening with sugar until fluffy. Add egg; beat well. Combine flour, baking powder ans salt. add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Pour into unbaked pastry shell already formed in dish. Carefully pour chocolate mixture over filling. Cover pie crust edges with foil so they don't burn. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes. Cool on wire rack and store in fridge.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mac n Cheese

This recipe is a twist on the Deceptively Delicious mac n cheese recipe. I love the idea of hiding the cauliflower in the cheese sauce plus I think it tastes better with it! I have added a few spices to give it more flavor.

Mac N Cheese **you can use reduced fat dairy products to cut back on fat content**

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cup milk
1 cup cauliflower puree
2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
4 oz. cream cheese
16 oz. elbow macaroni
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp mustard powder
dash cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Cook your pasta in salted water according to the directions on the box. Drain and set aside if cheese sauce isn't ready yet.

Spray large saucepan with cooking spray bring to medium heat. Add oil, then flour and cook, stirring until mixture is a thick paste but not really brown. About 1-2 min. Add the milk and stir with whisk for about 3-4 minutes until mixture begins to thicken. Add puree, cheese, cream cheese and seasonings and stir until thick bubbly and smooth. Pour over noodles when ready to serve.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Overnight baked french toast

This is a dish I usually make on Christmas eve for Christmas morning breakfast. There is so much commotion going on with gifts that making breakfast that morning needs to be easy and delicious.  Mine is a little burnt on the top in these pics. I like it like that so haters back off;) You also don't have to use nuts on yours either (Jazmine).

Baked French Toast

1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
8 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash salt
Praline Topping, recipe below
Maple syrup

Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.

Praline Topping:

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well. 

recipe from paula deen

Friday, August 5, 2011

My Sister's Wedding

I'm BACK!!! It was a great 2 week vacation but too much driving. 37 hours to be exact. Add 4 kids and being prego makes it exhausting. I am happy to say that the wedding was great. Everything went smoothly thanks to all the help we had. This house we had the reception at was beautiful. You can see from the pictures the view of Folsom lake in California. It was so big though that I could barely walk the next day from all the running around trying to make sure things were going great at all the stations. Maybe a smaller venue would be easier.

Pin wheels and sunflowers. Very simple.

The cake has hard orange candy I made on the outside. It took about 6 batches! My mom's friend made the cake and then shattered the candy and literally threw it at the cake.

Thumbprints from all the guests make up the balloons

These next few pictures were taken by the talented Annette from Little Gems Photography. She happens to be my aunt. She captures the feel of the reception better than my pics.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Caramel Popcorn

This treat brings back a LOT of memories. I used to go to my friend Jenny's home every Sunday and we would make this caramel popcorn. **Warning** it's addicting!! I like to eat the whole thing right away but you can store it in an air tight container for a few days and munch on it whenever you get a craving.

Caramel Popcorn

3 envelopes of microwave popcorn, popped (hint: I like to use plain white because you don't need that extra butter flavoring)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 stick butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cook your popcorn in the microwave as directed. Pour popped corn on a cookie baking sheet. Shake the popcorn to separate the kernels. Using your hands, gently grab handfuls of popcorn and place in LARGE bowl this separates the kernels so you don't break a tooth while shoving caramel corn in your mouth. Set bowl of popcorn aside.

In med sized saucepan, combine sugar, syrup, butter and salt. Bring to boil over med-high heat. Stir often. Once it's boiling, stop stirring and let boil for 3 min. Take off heat and add baking soda and vanilla. Mix well. Pour over popcorn and gently mix to cover every piece.