Sunday, December 23, 2012

Yummiest Blueberry Muffins

Recipe slightly adapted from Mini Manor Blog

First off I just have to say that this recipe is a-m-a-z-i-n-g.  It is the perfect blueberry muffin! Moist cake, swirled berries on top and a thick streusel topping.  Heaven on Earth.  I highly recommend this recipe. It is not only delicious but super simple and easy too! I made these the other day, froze them tonight and then Christmas morning wa-la! We have homemade muffins!

Blueberry Muffin:
1 1/8 c. sugar
2 1/2 c. flour
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 eggs
4 T. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. 2% milk
3/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
2 t. vanilla 
2 c. frozen or fresh blueberries (I used frozen)

Combine everything together except the berries.  Once your jam and streusel is ready then fold in your berries gently.

1/2 c. frozen or fresh blueberries (I used frozen)
1 T. water
1 t. sugar

Combine in a small saucepan over medium heat.  As it heats through and thickens, mash it constantly with the back of a wooden spoon.  Once a "jam" consistency, take off heat.

* Cooks note: I would double this next time.  It tasted great with these measurements but I really think that a thicker jam on top would be even better *

4 T. brown sugar
3 T. sugar
1/2 c. flour
5 T. melted butter

Combine all together in bowl.  It will be like a pie dough consistency.  This is normal.  Once it gets to that stage, crumble into little pieces.

To assemble muffins, fill 24 paper lined muffin cups with the blueberry muffin batter.  Top with a dollop of the blueberry "jam" and swirl with a skewer to make a pretty design and disperse it.  Then top with streusel topping.  

Bake each pan separately at 375 for 15-20 minutes.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Recipe from Our Best Bites

Last night the Hubby and I had a date night.  We went shopping, out to dinner, got some dessert and drove around watching Christmas light displays while we listened to Christmas music.  There is just something about eating a Salted Carmel Brownie from your favorite bakery while Nat King Cole serenades you as you drive around watching amazing light displays that makes you really feel the Christmas spirit.

Something else that has helped me also get into that Christmas spirit is watching "White Christmas" (Bing Crosby, you have the voice of an angel) and making these Chocolate Peppermint Cookies.

I thought this would be a fun Christmas cookie to make because c'mon, look at 'em! Chewy chocolate cookies mashed around fluffy peppermint frosting and rolled in crushed candy canes.  If that isn't a Christmas cookie then I don't know what is folks.

Have fun making these cookies for Santa!

1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
3/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
5 T. butter
1 T. water
1 egg, lightly beaten

1 stick butter, room temperature
2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. mint extract (taste as you go, you may want more)
milk as needed for consistency (barely any-just a splash or two)
2 drops red food coloring

To make cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt.  Mix well.

In medium saucepan combine 5 T. butter, chocolate chips, brown sugar and water.  Heat over medium until melted.  Transfer chocolate mixture to mixing bowl.

Beat in egg.  Add dry ingredients and mix until it just comes together (don't over mix).

Measure out scant tablespoons of dough, roll and place on cookie sheets (the dough will be soft, this is normal.  If it feels too soft stick in fridge for a few minutes).  You want 12 balls per cookie sheet spaced out fairly far apart (you will have a bit of dough left over to do another cookie sheet).  Bake each cookie sheet for 7-8 minutes (you want to slightly under bake them).  Take out, let cool for a few minutes and then transfer to cooling racks to let cool off completely.

While cookies are cooling, combine all of your frosting ingredients and mix together in stand mixer or with a hand mixer and whip until nice and fluffy.  You want a nice, stiff frosting.  

Once cookies have completely cooled, spread half of the cookies with the frosting, then top with other cookies to make sandwiches.  Roll in crushed candy canes.

Easy Chili

As fun as the holidays can be they can also be stressful.  And I don't know about you but even though I love to cook and bake I don't want to be in the kitchen all day on Christmas.  Been there, done that and don't want to do that no mo'!

I got this amazing, easy chili recipe from my wonderful Sister-In-Law Chelsy.  It is a family tradition of theirs to have it every Halloween and when we visited them in October she made it for us! 

And when I say it is easy, cheap and delicious I truly mean it! The ingredient list is small but packs a punch when it comes to flavor.  It is also extremely light on your wallet!

I hope you make it! It is a healthy, hearty and well balanced meal that will be enjoyed by everybody!

1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can red beans
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can light kidney beans
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 packet taco seasoning
12 oz jar salsa
1 lb ground beef, browned (I have never added this but you can if you want to)

Combine all together in a crock pot.  Cook over medium heat for 4-5 hours or until heated through.  Serve with tortilla chips, shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Baked Ziti

Recipe slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman

First off I just want to say that this dish will make you want to sing Christmas carols! It is so comforting, delicious and festive! It's the perfect casserole to have during any cold, Winter months.

If this were the Olympics I would give this dish a "10".

2 T. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 lb Italian Sausage
1 lb ground beef
28 ounce can whole tomatoes, with juice
2 cans (14.5 ounce) tomato sauce or marina sauce
2 t. Italian Seasoning
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
16 ounces ziti, cooked until not quite al dente
15 ounce tub whole milk ricotta cheese
1 1/2 lb mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese (freshly grated from a block)
1 egg
fresh or dried parsley

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat oil in large stock pot over medium heat.  Toss in garlic and onion and heat for 5-8 minutes until onions are cooked down a bit and softened.  Add the sausage and beef and cook until browned.  Drain off most of the fat.  

Add tomatoes, tomato juice or marinara, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes.  Stir and simmer for 25-30 minutes to let all the flavors blend.

While this is simmering, cook your pasta till it's cooked right before the al dente stage.  You want it to still have a bit of a bite to it so it doesn't get too soggy later on.  Drain and rinse with cold water to immediately stop the cooking process.

After the tomato sauce has simmered measure out 3-4 cups of sauce into another bowl and let it cool down.  

In a separate bowl combine the ricotta cheese, 2 c. mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, egg and a little bit of salt and pepper.  Stir just a couple times, you still want it to be slightly lumpy.

Pour the pasta into the bowl with the ricotta mixture and combine.  Add in the cooled tomato sauce mixture and combine.  Spread half of this in a 9x13 pan.  Top with half of the leftover tomato sauce.  Then top with half of the leftover mozzarella cheese.  Repeat the layer again with the pasta, tomato sauce and ending with the cheese.  

Bake 25-30 minutes until nice and bubbly.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Top with a little fresh or dried parsley.  Enjoy! 

Last Minute Gift Idea - Cookie Mix

Happy Holidays ya'll! I hope that you have completely immersed yourself into the Holiday season and have really enjoyed all of the magic that this time of year brings.  

I made sure that this year I started decorating for Christmas even before Thanksgiving so that I could REALLY enjoy this time of year.  The reason why I did this is because it seems like Christmas comes and goes ridiculously fast! So for those of you who didn't start decorating before Thanksgiving and who need a last minute present idea, this simple and cheap project is for you.

First off, this project is all about deception.  People are going to think that you slaved away putting together a "homemade" cookie mix for them when in actuality, you are just giving them a pre-done mix from good 'ol Betty Crocker.  

Now some of you at this point may be turning up your nose at this project because it's not "homemade".  But hear me out! I have cooked with some of these mixes and they are awesome! I love to cook and bake and I find that these mixes are very close to "homemade" tasting.  

For my cute little cookie mixes I used her Gingerbread mix (oh my heavens does it smell and taste delightful!) but I only have a picture of the Pumpkin Spice because I accidentally deleted my Gingerbread picture.  That was definitely a "blonde" moment.  

Any who, for this simple project I just plopped the cookie mix into an adorable red damask plastic bag from Michaels (I believe it was 24 for $1.99), wrote out a tag with the instructions and then tied a cookie cutter onto the bag with some tulle and raffia.  And wa-la! I have an easy and great present to give! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sante Fe Stuffed Peppers

Recipe adapted from Skinny Taste

First off, Happy Holidays! I hope everyone is having a wonderful time getting ready for Christmas.  It really is a special time of year and since I have a lot of time off of work this month you will see a lot more recipes from me in the next couple weeks.  I know, I know.  I just made your day right? I thought so.

The only problem is that there are just too many recipes out there I want to try! Fo sure (yes I meant to put "fo sure" instead of "for sure".  I'm ghetto like that yo!) over the next couple weeks you will see Baked Ziti, The Best Blueberry Muffins and Pumpkin Cheesecake With Pecan Gingersnap Crust (I made this at Thanksgiving and it is the best cheesecake I have ever had.  Praise be to the powers who created this recipe!).  I also have a cute, cheap and fast Christmas gift idea for you that will be posted tomorrow.

Okay, so let's get this party started!

This recipe is truly delicious.  The best thing about it are the flavors.  It is spicy without being too spicy, meaning that it is great for anyone!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  I enjoyed it so much that I ate 3.  Yikes!

6 green bell peppers (tops cut off, seeds taken out and cut in half lengthwise)
1 lb ground beef (the leanest you can find)
kosher salt
8 T. diced white onion
2 jalapenos, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced (I just use the jarred stuff from Costco)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 1/2 t. cumin
2 t. taco seasoning
1 1/2 c. frozen corn
3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 c. shredded pepper jack cheese

For Garnish: light sour cream and chopped green onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray large stock pot with cooking spray.  Toss in your beef and some kosher salt to taste and cook until browned.

Add onion, jalapeno, tomatoes, garlic, black beans, cumin and taco seasoning.  Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Uncover and throw in the corn.  Crank up the heat to about medium to medium high and cook for 8-10 minutes or until any residual liquid is gone.

Lay your peppers in a 9x13 and also an 8x8 pan (we're making a lot of food here folks!).

Evenly spoon your beef mixture amongst the peppers (I did mine using a large cookie scoop).

Give those babies a bath and pour in a tiny bit of water into each pan so that it barely, barely covers the bottom.

Tightly cover both pans with foil and stick 'em in the oven for 45 minutes so that the peppers can soften (you could probably get away with 30-35 minutes if you want leftovers because otherwise they may become too soft for leftovers).

Take 'em out and uncover.  Sprinkle with the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses.

Bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Take out and garnish with a side of light sour cream and green onion.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gooey Turtle Bars

Recipe from Six Sister's Stuff

Yesterday was a day for a treat.  And these bars hit the spot.  Oats, carmel, pecans, chocolate chips.  Could life get any better? I hope you try this.  They are really scrumptious.

2 1/4 c. flour
2 1/4 c. old fashioned oats
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
2 sticks butter, room temperature
12 oz. jar caramel topping
2 c. pecans, roughly chopped
2 c. milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl combine flour, oats, brown sugar, salt and baking soda.  Stir to combine.  Mix in butter till fully incorporated.  Press 2/3 into a cookie sheet and pat down.  Bake 10 minutes.  Take out and evenly drizzle caramel over top.  Top with pecans, chocolate chips and then remaining crumb mixture.  Pat down.  Bake 15 minutes.  Let cool slightly before cutting into bars.  

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Turkey Chili

Recipe by Our Best Bites

First off this chili is delicious.  I also need to brag about the fact that it is only 1.5 grams of fat per cup and 14 grams of protein.  Don't let that scare you off though! This chili is hearty and filled with great flavor.  I have never cooked with mushrooms or sweet potatoes before but I'm sure glad I did! There is so much good stuff in here for you.  Onion, garlic, pepper, pumpkin, etc.  It's a healthy and scrumptious meal. Enjoy!

1 T. olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced (any color)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 bell pepper, diced (any color)
2 jalapenos, minced
20 ounces ground turkey breast
8 ounces mushrooms, minced
2 t. cumin
2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 t. oregano
1 t. chili powder
1 1/2 t. smoked paprika
1 1/2-2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
28 ounce can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
32 ounces beef broth
15 ounce can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder

Optional: light sour cream, sliced avocado, chopped cilantro, fresh lime juice, shredded cheese

Heat a large skillet or stock pot to medium-high heat.  Add 1 1/2 t. olive oil and add onion, garlic, bell pepper and jalapenos.  Saute for about 5-8 minutes until veggies are tender and fragrant.  Add to slow cooker.

In same skillet, heat remaining 1 1/2 t. olive oil.  Add turkey and mushrooms and stir to combine.  Sprinkle in cumin, salt, pepper, oregano, chili power and smoked paprika.  Add turkey mixture to slow cooker.

Add sweet potatoes, tomatoes, beans, broth, pumpkin, cinnamon and cocoa powder to slow cooker and stir to combine.  Place lid on pot and cook for 4-5 hours on high or 8-10 on low (I cooked mine 3 1/2-4 hours on high and it was done).  

When done, turn off heat and let chili sit with lid off for 10-15 minutes to thicken.  Season with additional salt to taste before serving.  If desired, serve with sour cream, sliced avocados, small squirt of fresh lime juice, a little shredded cheese and any other toppings desired.  

Yields: 16 cups (It will fill a large crock pot to the very top)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies

I went Christmas crazy today! I had the day off and was super bummed about how the election turned out last night and I needed to do something fun.  So I spent the whole day getting out Christmas and decorating! It's like Mrs. Claus's house up in here yo.

After all the decorating I just wanted to bake.  At Wal-Mart I had bought a bag of Andes Mint Peppermint Baking Chips and thought it would fun to make a chocolate chip cookie with those thrown in.  They turned out so yummy! A very fun Christmas cookie to gift.  Keep in mind that this basic chocolate chip cookie dough recipe I used is for bakery sized cookies.  So they are huge! Merry Christmas ya'll!

2 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. unsalted butter, melted
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. white sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 t. vanilla
1 c. milk chocolate chips
3/4 c. Andes Mint Peppermint Baking Chips
Melted milk chocolate chips
Andes Mint Peppermint Baking Chips for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix flour, baking soda and salt together.  Set aside.  In a stand mixer, combine butter and sugars until light and mixed well.  Add egg, egg yolk and vanilla.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Add dry ingredients a little at a time.  Mix in chocolate chips and peppermint chips.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using an extra, extra large cookie scoop or a 1/4 measuring cup line up your cookie dough on the cookie sheets.  Make sure there's only 4 cookies per cookie sheet.  These will be large.  Bake each sheet one at a time for 15 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes.  Drizzle melted milk chocolate chips on top of cookies and put a few pieces of Andes Mint Peppermint Baking Chips on top.  Repeat process on remaining batches.  Enjoy with milk or hot cocoa!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

4 Ingredient Snicker Cookies

These cookies are so divine and easy to make! They are chewy and have a little Snickers in the middle.  Yum yum.  I made them for work and packaged them up in cute Halloween treat bags and I was going to post a picture but man oh man I can't wait to get a new camera.  I used my video camera to take the pictures and they all turned out horrible! This was the best of the bunch.  I know that's not saying a lot which is sad.  I plan to get a new camera on Black Friday.  But in the meantime just use your imagination because these were MUCH prettier in person then they are in this yucky picture.

4 Ingredient Snicker Cookies:
1 chocolate cake mix
1/3 c. vegetable oil
2 eggs
12 mini Snickers
chocolate chips
chopped walnuts

Combine cake mix, oil and eggs together.  Cut the 12 mini Snickers in half.  Wrap a small amount of dough around each Snickers.  To help with doing this spray your hands with a little cooking spray.   It will make your life so much easier! Place on 2 cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake one at a time at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  When done baking melt chocolate chips in microwave and drizzle over cookies.  Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

4 Ingredient Cupcakes

Recipe from Tidy Mom

I love cupcakes.  They are so cute and make a party a PAR-TAY! If that makes any sense.  Probably not.  Moving on.

I found this recipe and thought I would give a whirl.  It is so easy! Literally 4 ingredients.  As a side note I found the cute toothpicks at Hobby Lobby for $1.20.  I also got some for Thanksgiving.  Why would you ever make any when you can buy them for that cheap.  If you have a Hobby Lobby then ya need to go! Have fun baking!

4 Ingredient Cupcakes:
1 box cake mix
1/2 c. melted butter
3 large eggs
1 c. water

Combine everything together and mix really well.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.  Top with your favorite frosting.

* I filled mine 2/3 full and it was too much.  Most overflowed.  Aim for just a little over half full and you should be golden *

Friday, September 28, 2012

Couch-To-5K: Still on Week 3

So I lost some weight and then gained it back.  Oh the joy of failure.  Not.  

I am back on the band wagon though my friends.  I am running again and it's easier then ever! Don't you love that feeling of working hard and having it pay off? I know I do.  

This Couch-to-5K program is 9 weeks long and I have been doing it almost 9 weeks and I am still on Week 3? Why? I hurt my foot and got lazy.  The program also says that if you feel like you need to stay on a week to do that until you feel comfortable enough to move on.  I am going to do Week 3 for one more week and then move to Week 4.  Hopefully I will go faster through the weeks now that I have definitely gotten over a running plateau.  

It was so strange today.  When I was running I could feel that my body was stronger and that I wasn't breathing nearly as hard as I had been. That was a nice feeling.  I will be back with my update about Week 4 when I start it.  I am nervous but need to trust my body and realize that it is getting stronger and that I CAN push myself harder than I think.  

By the way, have you seen the cute hoodie on this website that says "Keep Calm And Run On"? I really want it! But it's $47! Maybe for Christmas.  =-) Take a look at it, you'll want one too!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Beyond Easy Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

I'm sure you've heard about this recipe from everyone.  Your Mom, your Grandma, your Sister, your dog.  Basically everyone.  I would like to think that I'm being original by adding some spices and walnuts to this recipe but I'm sure I'm not.  

These cookies are DELICIOUS regardless of where they come from though! I say PROPS to whateva Mama thought these up.  You...are my biggest fan.  And if you didn't get the reference go watch "That Thing You Do" this moment.  I mean it.  This moment.

Back to the task at hand.

These cookies are amazing! I feel like I am biting into Fall when I have them.  Pumpkin, spices, chocolate chips and walnuts! Hollah!

Beyond Easy Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies:
1 box yellow cake mix
15 oz can pumpkin
1 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. cinnamon
3/4 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (if you don't use parchment paper for baking start using it now because your life will never be the same).  Mix all ingredients together. Eat about 5 spoonfuls of dough.  Measure out the rest with a cookie scoop and place on cookie sheets.  Bake one sheet at a time for 9-12 minutes.  

Makes about 36 cookies

Spicy Honey Chicken Mango Salad

I love trying new things.  That's why you'll always see me try new recipes on the blog.  I don't want to get stuck in a rut and always have pancakes or cereal for dinner (this happens MUCH more then it should).  I also want to be cooking healthier.  Don't get me wrong, I love me some decadent and comforting food but I am making some life changes and cooking healthy can be fun and easy!

The salad is comprised of romaine lettuce, chilled, cubed mangos, avocado and an avocado ranch dressing.  I am already in the planning stages of changing this salad up again for the future and making it better.  It will be Spicy Honey Chicken Mango Salad 2.0.  Let's just say there's going to be some sugared nuts and a mango salad dressing instead of the avocado ranch.   Oh yeah.  It's going to happen.

The chicken I put in this salad is from Our Best Bites.  Click here for the link.  It is DA BOMB yo! Spicy, but not too spicy.  Sweet, but not too sweet.  The best of both worlds as Hannah Montana would say.  What? You never watched Hannah Montana? I feel ashamed.

I did some things differently but you can click on the link above and read how they do their recipe.  This is just my slightly different adaption and I LOVED it.  They advised to serve the chicken in a salad with mango and avocado which I did and it was sooo good! They also suggested serving it with a Honey Citrus Vinaigrette but I kinddaaa forgot to get some ingredients and tried to make due with what I had and it turned out horrible.  So I'm going to stick with my avocado ranch dressing until I make my mango one for next time.

I hope you enjoy this salad.  It is supa dupa healthy and flavorful and a great change to an otherwise monotonous dinner menu during the week.

For some reason I feel like I should be eating this in the Caribbean!

Spicy Honey Chicken Mango Salad:
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. chili powder
1/4 t. onion powder
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. cumin
1/4 t. chipotle chili powder (if you like spicy food then put more in!)
1/4 c. honey
1/2 T. apple cider vinegar
Red Leaf or Romaine lettuce (I made it with Romaine but would use Red Leaf next time)
2 chilled, cubed mangos
2 avocados sliced or diced
good Ranch dressing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lay a piece of tin foil on a cookie sheet and lay a cooling rack on top.

Mix garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder, kosher salt, cumin and chipotle chili powder in a small bowl until completely combined.

Place chicken on cooling rack and sprinkle the dry spices over the top.  Bake chicken until completely cooked through, about 50-65 minutes depending on size.

While the chicken is cooking prep your salad ingredients.  Wash and tear you lettuce and cut up your chilled mangos and avocado.  For the avocado ranch dressing mash together desired amount of ranch dressing and about half an avocado till nice and combined.  Let that chill.

In the last few minutes of the chicken cooking heat up the honey in the microwave for 25 seconds.  Add the apple cider vinegar and mix together with a basting brush.  Baste the chicken with the honey mixture.  You're going to be thinking that it's a LOT of liquid to put over the chicken and you would be right! But that's what makes it so scrumdidilyumpkish.  Once again, I apologize for making up my own language when it comes to food.  I get carried away.

Take the chicken out of the oven and cube it up or slice it.  I cubed mine but personally think it would be lovely to slice that chicken on a diagonal and lay it over your bed of lettuce in a "hey I'm much better then an expensive restaurant salad" sort of way.

Once you've got your chicken and lettuce ready to go sprinkle over desired amounts of mango, avocado and avocado ranch dressing.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Dining In Utah: Kneaders Peach Tart

I love food.  Have you noticed yet? One of my favorite things to do is to go out to eat.  So I am starting a new series called "Dining In Utah".  We may not have the fanciest restaurants in the world but we have some GOOD places to eat! 

One of my all time favorite places is called Kneaders Bakery and Cafe.  They sell soup, salads, sandwiches, an amazing breakfast, pastries, etc.  Just a fun place to go and eat! 

They are a chain with locations in Utah (where I live), Idaho, Oregon, Arizona and Colorado.  Click here to learn more about them.  Looks like they are going to be featuring some of their recipes soon which is sooo exciting! What can I say, I'm easily amused.

Any who, I went to Kneader's today and got a peach tart because I thought it just looked so pretty!

After eating it I realized that all in all it was good.  Not great, but good.  Usually with Kneaders I go bananas over every thing but this was just not as good as some of their other pastry and dessert items.

The crust almost tasted like a shortbread cookie.  It had a nice crunch and sweetness to it.  The filling was very creamy which was nice with the crunch and sweetness of the crust.  The whipped cream had a sprinkling of cinnamon or nutmeg and I really, really liked that! I wish there had been more on it.  Definitely going to remember that next time I make whipped cream for something.  One of the disappointments was the peaches.  They were kind of crunchy.  I guess because of the glazed look they had I thought that they would be more like peach pie filling type peaches but they weren't.  Don't get me wrong, they were just fine but I would have liked soft, really sweet and cinnamon-y (pardon the invention of my own language) peaches instead.  

I would definitely recommend this tart! Even though I felt like it could have been better it was very good! Delicious!

Happy Eating!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

White Chicken Chili

I LOVE spicy food.  I used to be a complete wimp about spicy food but man sometimes Mama just needs something SPICY now and then! 

I found this recipe out of the "Our Best Bites" cookbook.  Honestly, what's new? I seriously don't cook from anything else.  I am determined to try recipes from other cookbooks soon but for today, we're cooking out of "Our Best Bites".  

I know that this recipe is named "White Chicken Chili" but to me it also kind of tastes like a taco soup.  It's got a very clean, crisp taste.  I love the taste of cilantro, cumin and lime in it.  

I hope you enjoy trying it.  It's a fun and tasty soup to make!

1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 (15 ounce) cans Great Northern Beans (I would use 3 next time)
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed (next time I would shred instead)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (3.5 ounce) can green chilies
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. coriander (I didn't use this.  I just put in a little extra cumin)
1/2 t. salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 (32-ounce) box chicken broth
1 lime, juiced
1/2 c. roughly chopped cilantro

Toppings: sour cream, chopped cilantro, shredded pepper jack or Monterey Jack cheese, avocado (a must), tortilla chips and lime wedges

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion and cook for about 2 minutes, just until it starts to become translucent (did mine for more like 5-6 minutes to make sure those pieces wouldn't be crunchy at all).  

While the onions are cooking, drain the beans and rinse with cold water; set aside.  Sprinkle the chopped chicken with a little salt and pepper and add to pot (I mentioned that I would shred my chicken next time.  I would half the chicken breasts, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and add them to the pot.  I would cook them till they were almost done.  Once the other ingredients are added later on I would let the chicken cook completely through, remove it from the pot, shred it and then return it to the pot so it could cook a little more).  Add the garlic.  Cook for 4-5 minutes or until there's no more visible pink on the chicken.

Add green chilies along with all of the juices in the can.  Add the beans, cumin, oregano, coriander, salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper.  Stir to combine and then add the chicken broth.

Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes (did mine for more like 20 minutes).  Remove from heat and add the juice from one lime and 1/2 c. chopped cilantro.  Add the salt and pepper to taste (I didn't do this.  Everyone can salt and pepper their own portions).

Ladle into bowls and top as desired with sour cream, chopped cilantro, cheese, avocado, chips and lime wedges (I used all of those except the cilantro and it is mandatory you use them all too! Makes it soo yummy!).  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chocolate Beet Cake With Beet Cream Cheese Frosting

Recipe from Joy the Baker

I hate beets.  They taste like dirt.  But one Valentine's Day when Ken and I were recently married we went to a fancy Italian restaurant in downtown Salt Lake.  Dinner wasn't that great but the dessert....oh my the dessert....was fabulous! It was a beet cake with chocolate frosting.  We were slightly skeptical at first but once we had a bite, we were sold.  The secret with the beets is that you can't taste them but they add an amazing moistness to the cake.  The cream cheese frosting in this recipe is tinted with roasted, grated beets to give it a natural, pink color which I think gives it a more homemade, natural look.  If you want to impress a group then make this cake! It is very, very yummy!

For the Cake:

2 medium beets, unpeeled but trimmed of their greens
1 t. vegetable oil
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened plus more for greasing the pans
1 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour plus more for dusting pans
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 1/4 c. buttermilk

For the Frosting:
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4-5 c. powdered sugar, sifted (I used 5)
2 T. finely grated beets, mashed
1 t. vanilla
1-2 t. milk, depending on desired consistency (I used 1)
1/2 t. fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Thoroughly wash beets and trim leaves.  Place in a piece of foil.  Drizzle with vegetable oil.  Seal up foil (I did about 3 layers of foil).  Place on baking sheet and roast beets until they are tender, about an hour (I did mine for an hour and a half).

Remove beets from oven and open up foil and allow to cool completely.  Peel beets with a paring knife.

Using a box grater, grate the beets on the finest grating plane.  Measure out 3/4 c. grated beets for the cake and 2 T. for the frosting.  Set aside.

Reduce oven to 350 degrees.  Use butter to grease two 8" or 9" round pans (it's easiest if you use your hands).  Cut out 2 parchment paper circles to go in the bottom of the pans.  Butter the parchment paper.  Dust flour in the pans.  Set aside while you prepare the cake.

In the bowl of an electric mixture with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  About 3-5 minutes.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, for one minute after each addition.  Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.  Once eggs are incorporated beat in beets and vanilla until thoroughly combined.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture.  Beating on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk.  Once just incorporated, add the other half of the dry ingredients.  Beat on medium speed until milk and dry ingredients are just combined.  Try not to over mix the batter.  Bowl can be removed from the mixer and folded with a spatula to finish incorporating ingredients.  Cake will be on the thick side.

Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans.  Bake for 23-25 minutes (for a 9-inch pan) or 30-32 minutes (for a 8-inch pan).  Cake is done when a skewer comes out clean.  Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool completely (you can also transfer to wire rack after 25 minutes to finish cooling).

To make the frosting:
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese for 30 seconds until pliable and smooth.  Add the butter and beat for another 30 seconds until well combined.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Beat in the beets.  Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, milk, lemon juice and salt.  Beat on medium speed until smooth and silky.  Refrigerate the frosting for 30 minutes before frosting the cooled cakes.

To assemble the cake, place one layer of cake on a cake stand or plate.  Top with a generous amount of pink frosting.  Spread evenly.  Place the other cake on top of the frosting (I did the flat, bottom side of the cake up so that I had a really smooth surface to frost versus a mounded surface).  Top with frosting. Work onto the sides of the cake.  You will have extra frosting left over.  Refrigerate for an hour before serving.  Cake will last well wrapped in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Hello good friend.

Coconut Banana Bread With Lime Glaze

This recipe is from Our Best Bites and these girls know what they're doing! Almost every recipe I have tried from them is sooo delicious.  As we speak I have an Overnight Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal in the crock pot.  But that's a post for later! This bread is very yummy.  It is banana bread with coconut in it and toasted on top.  Then it's drizzled with a glaze of fresh lime juice and powdered sugar.  My husband even said it was good! And that is saying something because he usually doesn't make comments about food.  I used 4 mini loaf pans but their recipe is just for one large loaf.  If you do make mini loaves (which I just think are cuter anyways) adjust baking time to about 30 minutes.  Each oven is different though so keep an eye on it.

2 c. flour
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c. mashed bananas (about 4)
1/4 c. sour cream
3 T. milk
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. coconut

Topping: 2 T. additional coconut
Glaze: 1/2 c. powdered sugar whisked with 1 1/2 T. fresh lime juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together.  Set aside.In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until blended.  Add eggs and beat to combine.  Add banana, sour cream, milk and vanilla.  Beat until blended.  Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until just combined.  Stir in 1/2 c. coconut.

Pour batter into 9x5" loaf pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.  Sprinkle additional 2 T. on top.  Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.  If halfway through coconut is getting too toasty cover with foil.

When done, remove from oven.  Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes and carefully remove from pan.  Whisk powdered sugar and lime juice together.  Drizzle on top.

Cream Cheese Chicken

I know that the title and picture isn't very appetizing but trust me, everyone in Utah and their dog makes this and for good reason! It's delicious! Comfort food at it's best.

5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 ounce package cream cheese
2 cans cream of chicken
1 1/2 packages dry italian salad dressing mix

Combine all ingredients except chicken.  Put chicken in crock pot and cover with cream cheese mixture.  Cook on medium for 5-6 hours until cooked through. Remove chicken, shred and return to crock pot.  Serve over mashed potatoes.

Here's a couple tips:
* You can add a little chicken broth to this to thin out the sauce
* I learned a great tip from The Girl Who Ate Everything.  To get perfectly shredded chicken put the chicken in a bowl and shred it with a hand mixer.  I did this and was super impressed with how great it turned out!

If you think the salad looks good click here to get the recipe.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

S'mores Cookies

Do you remember the scene in "Father of the Bride Part II" when Franck sings the little tune of "Every party has a pooper, that's why we invited you! Party pooper! Party pooper! Every party has a pooper, that's why we invited you, George Baannkks! That's you." It makes me giggle thinking of that part.  Well, the Hubby and I were party poopers on Fourth of July.  I had to work the next day so we just stayed home and chilled out.  I wanted to do something special though.  So I found these yummy S'more's Cookies from The Girl That Ate Everything.  D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!

11 T. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. sea salt (I used normal salt)
1 t. cinnamon
2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. semi sweet chocolate chips (milk chocolate is yummy too!)
1 c. mini marshmallows
3 regular sized Hershey's bars, broken into pieces
1-2 packages graham crackers, broken into squares.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, sea salt and cinnamon to combine.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter with white and brown sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine on low speed.  Fold in the chocolate chips and marshmallows. Chill dough in refrigerator for 1 hour to overnight (I did mine right away, didn't make any difference).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking pans with parchment paper.  Lay out graham crackers as close as possible. Place heaping tablespoons of dough on each graham cracker.  Press down slightly with fingertips.

Bake for 5 minutes and then remove from oven.  Press a Hershey bar on top.

Bake for 5-7 minutes more or until dough is starting to turn golden brown at the edges.  Remove to wire rack to cool.  Once cool use a sharp knife to cut cookies apart.  Enjoy!

Mixed Berry Smoothie

In my recent posts I have been talking about my journey on the program Couch-to-5K.  One of the things I have been doing to be healthier is making smoothies! It's really hard for me to eat enough fruit to get the daily requirement.  Let's be honest, it almost never happens.  So a great way for me to get a lot of fruits in is to make smoothies! I got a big bag of frozen mixed berries from Wal-Mart, good vanilla yogurt (please don't use store brand, yuck!), ice, and good orange juice.  The recipe that follows is really just suggestions.  I don't measure.  Taste as you go and see if you want to add more of something.  I'm going to be experimenting with smoothie ingredients in the future so be looking for more posts! 

2 c. frozen mixed berries
1/3-1/2 c. ice
1/3-1/2 c. vanilla yogurt
1/3-1/2 c. orange juice.

Blend together and enjoy!

I kinda loved it.

Couch-to-5K: Week 4

Hello friends! I am now on Week 4 of the program Couch-to-5K.  I have had some great success on this program! I have lost some weight! I have lost 8 lbs since my heaviest.  Haza for me! Yes that is a medieval times reference! I am soo happy!  There's a tiny problem though.  My left foot is hurting.  I don't know why but I am glad tomorrow is a "rest" day from the program.  I am going to take so much care of my foot tomorrow it's not even funny! I actually am repeating Week 3 of the program.  They said that if you feel like you need to repeat a week then to do it sooo I am going to repeat Week 3.  Wish me luck on this week and my foot!  I will do an update next week on weight loss and how the program is going.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Week 2: The Couch-to-5K & Disney Running Events


If you know me at all you know I love ANYTHING Disney.  Disney movies, Disneyland, Disneyland Dole Whips, Disneyland get the point.  I am on a 9 week journey to running a 5K and one thing I also really want to do some day is a Disneyland 5K.  They have them once in a while and I want to go and be as happy as this lady! Okay, so there probably won't be cartoon characters holding up my finish line at the end but there are lots of fun things they do during their running events! They always have a fun theme, cute medals, snacks, characters, etc.  It sounds like a par-tay to me!  If you want to see the dates of their different events just click here.  

On that note I just finished my second week of The Couch-to-5K program and I am sore! Which is a good thing right? I have a couple rest days and then resume training Tuesday of next week.  I think Monday I am going to do some sort of exercise though. Maybe yoga.  Can I just say how much I like my Yoga dvd.  Even though it is BEYOND cheesy I still enjoy it.  They say things such as, "the light in me salutes the light in you" which is something I would normally mock but it's oddly calming and relaxing.  As Jacques from "Finding Nemo" would say, "I am ashamed." 

Any who, back to the topic at hand.  I am excited to be doing this program! I really like it.  I like that there is structure to it. It's nice to have set "rest" days too.  Instead of feeling like I need to be exercising 6 days per week and then feeling disappointed in myself because I don't do it.  If you want to participate in The Couch-to-5K program you can go here to read about it.  

I will post next weekend after my Week 3 is done.  Wish me luck on my running this week! 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Couch-to-5K

I have a desk job.  I sit 8 hours a day. I used to be a runner.  And then I wasn't.  Time went on and exercising wasn't happening.  I then started to exercise a lot more then I had been and then I decided I wanted to do a 5K.  Now I know that a 5K isn't a big deal for a lot of people but for someone who has had a desk job and sits a lot, it is.

I thought it would be fun to chronicle my progress and journey.  The website I am using for a program is called The Couch-to-5K.  You can go here to view it.  I am on Week 2.  I would eventually like to do a 10K and a Half Marathon but I figure you have to walk before you run, literally.

I forgot how much I LOVE running.  It is like therapy.  A way to work out any frustrations or just think about things.  My goal for this week is to push myself but not to the point where I feel totally burnt out.

I will be chronicling my journey throughout the 9 weeks.  Wish me luck!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Better Than Anything Brownies

Recipe from Six Sister's Stuff

Good gracious! These brownies are the  So incredibly delicious! Layers of chewy brownie, toffee bits, carmel and chocolate chips.  Done and done!

Better Than Anything Brownies:

1 pkg German chocolate cake mix
1 (5 3/4 ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14 ounce) bag caramels
3/4 c. melted butter
1 bag milk chocolate chips
1 (8 ounce) bag Heath toffee bits

Mix together cake mix, melted butter and 1/3 c. evaporated milk.  Press half into the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 6 minutes.  Remove brownies from oven and sprinkle on half of the bag of Heath toffee bits.  Melt together caramels and rest of evaporated milk, pour over toffee bits.  Sprinkle on half bag of chocolate chips.  Spread remaining batter on top (this is easiest if you take pieces of the batter, flatten each individual piece in your hands and place on top).  Sprinkle remaining toffee bits and chocolate chips on top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.  

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Chicken Taco Soup

Slightly adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

I am not a beef person.  The thought of beef actually makes me gag a little.  So drumroll please....Chicken Taco Soup! This is hot and spicy! Just the way Mama likes it! If you don't like very spicy things then 1) you are bananas and 2) you can just use less taco seasoning.  

1 white onion, finely chopped
1 (15 oz) can Nalley Turkey Chili
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can corn, drained
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chiles
3 1/2 T. taco seasoning
3 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts completely thawed
1/4 c. water

Combine onion, turkey chili, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, tomatoes with chiles, taco seasoning and water in large crock pot.  Mix well.  Submerge chicken breasts in crock pot till completely covered.  Cook on high for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.  Take out chicken and shred.  Return to crock pot and cook on medium for another hour.  Eat with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips.  This would also be really tasty with some diced avocados in it.  I had leftovers tonight and to reheat it I added a splash of water to it and cooked it on the stove till heated through.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Monster Cookie Dough Dip

This recipe is from The Girl Who Ate Everything and it is delicious! There are a few things I would do different next time but overall it is a great recipe for a baby shower, bridal shower, game night, etc.  Keep in mind this recipe makes a TON.  I would definitely only make half next time.  The picture above is only about half of what it made.

And a closer pic.  Yum yum!

Monster Cookie Dough Dip:
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened (I did mine room temp.)
1/2 c. butter, softened (I did mine room temp.)
1 c. creamy peanut butter
2 c. powdered sugar
3 T. brown sugar
1/4 c. flour
1 t. vanilla
2 1/2 c. rolled oats, old fashioned or quick
2/3 c. plain M & M's
1 c. semi sweet chocolate chips

Combine cream cheese, butter and peanut butter with a hand held mixer.  Stir in powdered sugar, brown sugar, flour and vanilla.  Stir in oats (I only did 2 c. and I really should have added in the extra 1/2 c.  It would have been better with it!), M & M's and chocolate chips (next time I would use the mini morsels and only do a 1/2 c. instead.  It had too many chocolate chips for me and they were too big). Refrigerate until ready to eat.  Serve with apples, graham crackers or pretzels.  I also think they might be good with Teddy Grahams.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Creamy Tomato Soup & Breadsticks

When I used to think of tomato soup I used to think of the kind that came in cans by Campbell's that people would always serve with a grilled cheese sandwich.  Although that may be okay this is soooo much better! 

The soup is super gourmet.  It is creamy and flavorful with just the right amount of herbs.  If you want to impress people for dinner or just need a little comfort food then this soup is for you.

The breadsticks and garlic bread seasoning got the same reaction out of me as well.  They are beyond delicious.  I beg you to please never buy breadsticks from the store again because these are a lot better tasting and cheaper! 

All of these recipes are from Our Best Bites.  I know, I know! I should really widen my search of recipes to other sources but these gals sure know what they're doing! 

Here are the exact recipes for the soup and breadsticks if you want to go directly to their website.

Creamy Tomato Soup:
1 T. reserved oil from sun-dried tomatoes or olive oil
1 c. chopped white onion
3/4 c. grated carrots
4 cloves garlic, minced (I just use the minced garlic from a jar)
2/3 c. sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth (I liked using the less sodium kind)
1 t. sugar
1 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
1/2 t. dried oregano
1 T. dried basil
1/2 t. red pepper flakes, optional (I didn't use this)
3 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
Garnishes: freshly grated parmesan cheese (not the canned stuff please!) and fresh basil

Place oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion, carrot and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring often.

Add sun-dried tomatoes, canned tomatoes, chicken broth, sugar, salt, pepper, oregano and basil.  If you're going to use red pepper flakes, add them now.

Bring soup to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer.  Cover pan and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove from heat.  Transfer soup to blender (do this in 2 batches if necessary).  Add cream cheese.  Remove center piece of blender to allow steam to escape, but place a paper towel over opening to avoid splattering.  Process until smooth.  You could also just add the cream cheese directly to the pot and use an immersion blender to combine.

Add additional salt and pepper to taste if needed.

1 1/2 c. warm water (105-115 degrees F.)
1 T. sugar
1 T. active dry yeast
1/2 t. salt
3-4 1/2 c. flour, divided

Garlic Bread Seasoning:
1 c. powdered parmesan cheese (I used one that had parmesan and romano cheese)
4 t. kosher salt
4 T. garlic powder
4 t. oregano
4 t. basil
4 t. parsley

Combine cheese and dried herbs together.  You won't use all of this for the breadsticks but just freeze the rest for up to 3 months and use on anything! 

(Their recipe also called for marjoram but at Wal-Mart it was about $7 a bottle! Yeah I don't think so.  And it tastes delicious without it.)

For the breadsticks combine water, sugar and yeast in a large bowl (the bowl of your mixer if you have one).  Let stand for 10 minutes or until yeast is extremely bubbly and frothy.

Add salt and stir.  Add 1 1/2 c. flour and mix well.  Gradually add more flour (usually between 1 1/2-2 1/2 c., depending on your elevation and humidity) until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Spray a bowl with cooking spray and place dough in bowl.  Cover and let rise for 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Remove from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface.  Roll dough into a rectangle 18" long and 9" wide and cut into 12 strips with a pizza cutter.

Roll out a piece of dough into a snake then drape it over your forefinger and twist the dough.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Divide bread among 2 cookie sheets lined with parchment paper (they advised to just spray cookie sheets with cooking spray but I am addicted to parchment paper).  

Cover the pans with clean cloths and let dough raise for another 30 minutes.  When there's about 15 minutes to go, preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  When the dough is done rising, bake for 10-12 minutes or until just barely golden brown (I baked mine for 10 minutes).  

When breadsticks are still warm rub some butter over the tops (don't be too conservative! lather that butter on baby!) and sprinkle with garlic bread seasoning.