Friday, December 31, 2010

My Top 10 of 2010!

I know I'm just an itty-bitty blog with a following that is comfortably nestled into the shadows of the big name blogs we all love, but I think your *likes* deserve a little moment in the spotlight, don't you!? SO, as I've seen all my favorite bloggers do this past week, I'm jumping on the wagon & posting my TOP 10 of 2010! Granted, my blog only began in May, so it's not a full 2010... but you get the idea! I hope you enjoy. You know what I learned? You guys have a sweet tooth as big as mine! Much love to you all - thanks for making my blog the success it is to me!

#10: O'Henry Bars!

#9: Oreo Truffles!

#8: 4-Layer Raspberry White Chocolate Bars!

Thanks, again, to YourHomeBasedMom for the picture!

#7: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Krispers!

#6: Peanut Butter Fudge Freezer Pie!

#5: French Bread!

#4: Cake Balls!

#3: Cinnamon Sugar Roasted Almonds!

#2: Cranberry Pineapple Jello Stuff!

And, finally, #1: Chicken Alfredo Penne with Broccoli!

Honestly, I'm kinda shocked that the #1 viewed recipe is what it is! It wasn't a completely awesome dish - kinda average, really. But I think it's just got a bunch of key words that come up in the search engines. I'd like to include 2 honorable mention recipes, chosen by blog viewers! I put a post on Facebook asking for some of my friends' favorites this year & both of these were mentioned.

Honorable Mention #1: Buffalo Chicken Chili!

Honorable Mention #2: Magic Middle Cookies!

So that's that! I hope you all have enjoyed reading my blog as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Who knew that my little project - my little slice of Mommy-Time would turn into something with 72 public followers, several more that are not *official* followers, has had over 6,500 visitors in the 7 months it's been around and has had visitors from such far away places as South Korea, Russia, Netherlands, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, United Kingdom, Italy, United Arab Emirates, Slovenia, Mexico, Malaysia.... and many, many more! It's crazy! And I thank YOU!!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I've got a friend, she's got a blog, it's got a giveaway!

My friend Crystal has a great blog, Simply Being Mommy. Over on her blog today there's a pretty sweet 24-hour giveaway going on - 9 winners will be chosen to win a coupon for Old Navy that'll get you $100 of stuff for only $50! Sounds good, right!!?? I thought so, too. So go enter!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Jack & the Shower

Strawberry Smoothie

Back in high school I worked at a smoothie bar named The Juice Club. After a while it changed its name to Jamba Juice & we had to wear these sill name tags that read "We're changing our name to Jamba Juice but you can still call me MICHELLE!" Then a few years later they bought out a chain named Zuka Juice, too, and Zuka became Jamba. In all, I worked there a total of 5 years & was an assistant manager for a good chunk of it. The pay was what you'd expect of a high schooler's job but the perk of a free smoothie on every shift was enough to keep me around!! LOL I love me a smoothie! I tend to like the less healthy ones, like the chocolate or peanut butter ones, but there's something to be said for a good glass of blended fruit/juice... with a little ice cream, of course! Delish. This is the one that ws known as Strawberries Wild - at least it was about 10-15 years ago when I worked there!! LOL A yummy mix of:

Apple juice, frozen strawberries, fresh banana & vanilla frozen yogurt (or ice cream, but frozen yogurt is much lower in fat!)

Get your blender cup & fill it to 12 oz with apple juice. Then add in 2 scoops of frozen yogurt - or 'Fro Yo' as we called it back then!

I took this picture so you could see what size scoops to make but for some reason the scoop looks enormous to me! Technically you want like a 2 or 3 oz scoop. Two of them.

Now throw in 2 small palm fulls of the frozen berries.

Add half of a banana. Put on the lid & blend until smooth. If you'd like you can add in a handful of ice cubes, too, but I don't usually bother.

This recipe makes a 24-oz smoothie. I split it into 3 8-oz cups for the kids then made a second one for the baby & I to share!

YUM! This is a super kid-friendly treat and a perfect way to get a little extra fruit in their bellies!

Strawberry Smoothie:

12 oz apple juice
2 scoops vanilla frozen yogurt
2 palm-fulls of frozen strawberries
1/2 fresh banana
ice (optional)

Add everything into a blender & blend until smooth! Makes 24-oz.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Chocolate Cobbler

I made this for the first time for Christmas Eve dinner with Hubby's sister's family.

Then I made it for the second time on Christmas Day for dinner with my parents.

Mmmmmmm. Do you think we liked it!? LOL There's a lot of things going right with this dessert. The chocolate cake part of it is not overly sweet - it has a fairly mild cocoa flavor. Like what I envision chocolate cake used to taste like back in Grandma & Grandpa's day. But then it's paired with the oozing lava of chocolate sauce that forms beneath the cake as it bakes - and that sauce is packed with a rich, sweet, decadent flavor. And when you put the two of them together in a bowl - AND THEN top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!!? Great googley moogley (shout out to the other Maggie & the Ferocious Beast fans!! LOL) It is pure joy. Bliss. Delight.

Let's go:

Unsweetened cocoa powder, white sugar, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, butter, vanilla, milk, hot tap water (not pictured).

Grab your 8x8 baking dish - I used my middle-sized oval Corningware (do not grease it). Pour in the flour, baking powder, salt, 3/4 cup of white sugar & 3 Tbsp of cocoa.

Stir that around to combine. Then add the melted butter, vanilla & milk. Mix well & spread evenly into the bottom of the dish.

Now in a separate bowl mix the rest of the sugar, the rest of the cocoa & the brown sugar. Stir it around to mix it well.

Sprinkle this over the top of the wet mixture.

Last layer is to pour the hot tap water down over the top of it all.

DO NOT MIX IT!!! I know - it looks like a sloppy mess of soup. It's OK! A bit of magic happens as it bakes. The bottom mixture bakes into the cake layer & it rises to the top. Then the dry layer mixes with the water to turn into the sweet lava that sinks to the bottom. Kinda fun, huh!!!?

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

Try to be patient & let it cool about 10-15 minutes before you dive it. You don't wanna get burned! Throw a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top & enjoy!

Mmmm... What is it about a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream on top of any hot dessert that make such perfection? Really - is there any grater combination in the world of desserts?

Chocolate Cobbler:

1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
7 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
1 1/4 cup white sugar, divided
1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup hot tap water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In an 8x8 baking dish stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, 3 tablespoons of the cocoa & 3/4 cup of the white sugar. Stir the milk, melted butter & vanilla into the flour mixture. Mix until smooth. and spread evenly in the bottom of the ungreased pan.

In a separate bowl mix the remaining 1/2 cup of white sugar, the remaining 4 tablespoons of cocoa & the brown sugar. Sprinkle over the batter.

Pour the hot tap water over all. DO NOT STIR! Bake for about 40 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes & serve with a hefty scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Thursday, December 23, 2010

General's Chicken w/ Green Beans

Let's take another quick break from the holiday sugar rush! Don't fret - I've got a few more sweet treats on the shelf waiting to be posted! But let's talk dinner today, shall we? Add this to your repertoire of 'things to do with chicken'. It's pretty dang good! I keep trying to find ways to convince my kids they like green beans or rice & this felt like a good one to try - it still didn't work! LOL They only ate the chicken. Oh well - Hubby & I sure loved it all!

Here are the ingredients:

Diced chicken breast (not pictured), fresh green beans, soy sauce, brown sugar, fresh ginger, garlic, egg whites, corn starch, salt pepper & red pepper flakes.

You'll notice no pepper flakes in the photo - all I had was crushed red pepper & my neighbor was out of flakes, too, so I went with what I had. I'm not entirely sure why I put the chili powder in the picture. We'll blame it on too many kids. They really do suck your brain dry. I had my 4 & a few of the neighbor kids here today. Totally their fault. Right? Can't possibly be my fault!

All right - let's get our hands dirty. Peel your garlic & ginger & dice them well.

Grab a medium bowl & mix together 1 table spoon of the corn starch & your water. Get that all combined and then add the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar & 1/2 teaspoon of the red pepper flakes (I just did about 4-5 shakes of the powder).

Toss in the green beans & stir them around until they're well coated. Then set it aside.

Get a new bowl - one that'll fit all your diced up, raw chicken. In it mix together the egg whites, the rest of the corn starch & the salt & pepper. Add the chicken & mix it around until it's all covered in the goo.

Heat up a large skillet over med-high heat & add 1 tablespoon of oil. Let the oil get hot & then add about half the chicken & 1/4 tsp of the pepper flakes (which I omitted on the suspicion that the chicken would be the only part my children would eat - score one point for mommy instincts!) Do you know how to check if oil is ready for cooking? Run your fingers under the faucet & then flick a little water off your fingers into the oil. If it spits at you you're ready to go!

Avoid the hurry-up urge to do all the chicken at once. It'll stick together & leave you with a jumbo patty of chicken in the pan. Give it room to breathe & break it up with your wooden spoon as the coating starts to cook.

Move on to your second batch of meat & cook it just like you did the first - heat a new Tbsp of oil, add chicken, add pepper flakes.

Set it aside now & grab the bowl of beans. Give it another good stir & add pour them into the same skillet.

Let those go for 4-5 minutes, stirring every now & then. Then add the chicken back in the pan & heat it all together. Stir it around to distribute the sauce.

Serve it up over some brown rice (or white if you prefer!) and enjoy! I wasn't sure what to serve with this tonight - it had the meat, veggie & starch included in one - but I needed more on the plate so I went with Mandarin oranges! That's sort of Chinese, right? Mandarins!!?? LOL

YUM!!! Eat up!

General's Chicken w/ Green Beans:

1/4 cup cornstarch
1 lb green beans, trimmed & cut in half
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 large egg whites
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil

Stir together 1 Tbsp cornstarch & 1/2 cup cold water in a medium bowl combined. Add garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Add green beans, stir again and set aside.

In another bowl, big enough to hold your chicken, whisk together the egg whites, remaining 3 Tbsp cornstarch, salt and pepper. Add chicken, toss to coat.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 Tbsp of oil and 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Add half the chicken to skillet (lift with tongs & allow excess coating to drip into the bowl). Cook about 8-10 minutes, stirring & flipping to brown evenly. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining oil, chicken & red pepper flakes. Set aside.

In that same skillet over the same heat add the green bean mixture & all its liquid. Cover; cook until beans are tender and sauce has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet. Stir everything together to distribute the sauce & bring the chicken to serving temperature.

Serve over hot rice.

Source: Your Homebased Mom

Sunday, December 19, 2010

O'Henry Bars... sort of.

If you were to do an internet search for O'Henry bars you'd find a bar made with oats & topped with a peanut butter/chocolate mixture. These are not those bars. I'm not really sure how they got their name - I only know that it's wrong!! LOL This O'Henry bar is a treat my mother-in-law would make every Christmas to put on the table with TONS of other sweets - all homemade. Almond roca, sour cream cookies, chocolate covered cherry cookies, caramels, chocolate peanut clusters... tons. Of all that deliciousness spread across the table THESE are the ones that would always call my name. And they still do. O'Henry bars, I love you.

Shopping list:

Rice Krispies, unsalted peanuts, peanut butter, light Karo syrup, white sugar, milk chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips & butterscotch chips.

First step is to butter a 9x13 dish. My adorable little helper wanted to be sure to have her picture in the write up this time!

Now melt some of the semi-sweet chips together with the milk chips. I just do this in the microwave.

Spread this mixture into the bottom of your prepared pan & then go find something to do for the next half hour or so. You can't move on until this is mostly set.

Once that's not a gooey mess anymore go ahead & move on to the next step - the crispy, chewy, sweet, salty, magical middle!

Melt the sugar & Karo together in a pot over medium heat, stirring frequently.

Then remove it from the heat & stir in the peanut butter until it's all melted in. Add the nuts & cereal & stir until well combined.

Spread this mixture over the cooled chocolate.

Now we're gonna move on to the top!

Melt the rest of your semi-sweet chips with your butterscotch chips.

Spread that on top of the cereal layer.

Then just stick it out on the counter top to let it all cool down & firm up together. Maybe 2 hours...? Ish? Then cut them into small squares. About a 1-inch square is a good size for these. Perfect little 2-bite treats! You don't need them to be big, like a Rice Krispy treat.

Mmmmmm.. My FAVORITE Christmas tradition!


O'Henry Bars:

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup light Karo syrup
1 cup unsalted peanuts
3 cups Rice Krispies

Butter a 9x13 pan.
Melt together 1 cup of semi-sweet chi[s and the milk chips. Spread in bottom of prepared pan. Set aside to cool.

Bring Karo & sugar to a boil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add peanut butter; stir until melted. Add nuts & cereal & stir until it's all well coated in the mixture. Press over cooled chocolate in the pan.

Melt together remaining semi-sweet chips & the butterscotch chips. Spread on top of cereal layer. Allow to cool & set for about 2 hours before cutting into 1-inch squares.