Saturday, October 4, 2014

Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Helloooo General Conference weekend! I let out a little secret on my Instagram today. I gain more weight during General Conference than I do at Christmas! It's the combination of the need for comfort food in the fall and being snuggled up inside during the weekend. It's just the atmosphere! Christmas time I am usually busy playing and making sure things are going as planned (where IS that special stocking stuffer I got for so and so?! It was here yesterday!!! Sound familiar?) General Conference? I have nothing to do but cook, eat and relax.

One tradition that I make every year is my mama's Beef Stew & Rolls (click the link to get the recipe. So delish!) But this year I tested out something else! I have my own "perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe" that I created last year (which I have yet to share with anyone), but when I saw these tiny ones on Pinterest I absolutely had to make them. I HAD to! I don't trust myself to convert a typical choc. chip recipe into a mini one so I went with someone who knew, Jaclyn at Cooking Classy, and boy does she know! These are heavenly! And so much fun for the kids! And of course....sooooo cute. Jaclyn's are cuter than mine because I didn't have any cornstarch and made them anyway :( haha. So if you're wondering what kind of difference that 1tsp of cornstarch makes, just compare my pictures with hers and you'll understand. But, if you're not worried about looks and taste alone, they taste mighty excellent even without the cornstarch so have no fear!



What you will need:
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 C white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp. + 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/3 C flour
  • 2/3 C chocolate chips
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degree's
  • Blend dry ingredients (flour, baking soda and cornstarch) into a small bowl and set aside
  • Cream together butter and sugars
  • Add in egg and mix well
  • Ad in vanilla and blend
  • Slowly add in dry ingredients until well combined
  • Add in chocolate chips and blend
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (I just lightly greased the cookie sheet)
  • Roll dough into heaping teaspoon sized balls
  • Lay balls out 1" apart on cookie sheet
  • Bake for 5-6 minutes until edges are slightly golden (they will look underdone)
  • Let them finish baking/cooling on the sheet for a few more minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack

Thursday, October 2, 2014

PREP YOUR SNACKS THE FAST, CHEAP AND EASY WAY!



With a baby on the way and two kids FULL of energy and constantly hitting a new growth spurt, I decided it was time to get a bit more organized with their snacking situation. I'd like to say it's because I'm really into healthy eating and such, but really I am just too big and too uncomfortable to go help them get a snack EVERY. TEN. MINUTES.

 I think I spend a good chunk of my days distracting them from snacking. Either they get bored so they think about snacks, or they are completely off the wall and burn so much energy they are literally starving. I found myself just being too tired to care and being like, "um, sure, if you can find a snack yourself you can have it." This resulted in them frequently finding little candies or a giant spoonful of Nutella :).

I thought about getting snacks prepped, but in my mind that meant I'd just be spending more money and more time on them. So I was really obsessed about making sure that this was something I could actually keep up with and not have it break my food budget each week. After putting all this together and seeing how long it would actually take each week, I was shocked. It did not take long at ALL. The grapes might have taken the longest, but I don't actually know that because my kids prepped them for me and it took them about 5 minutes tops, and the ENTIRE food prep process took approximately 15 minutes (not including the yogurt buttons, but those seriously go by super fast, too) So, as for doing it and making sure it wasn't costing me a fortune, let me break it all down for you on why I chose each thing I did :).

First of all, I found a cool app called "Fooducate." You can scan items at the grocery store and it will give you an overall health "grade" of said item. You can click "why" it was given that grade and also click "alternatives" with a list of options that have a better grade. You can search items and add items and AH, it's just amazing.

We also just got a Mandolin Slicer to make the chopping/slicing go faster. However, I didn't use it for any of this prep and like I already said, it went by so fast. I'll test it out with the mandolin and see how much faster it makes everything. But I'm all about finding ways that everyone can do things with what they already have :). Anyway, moving on.

FRIDGE SNACKS

I really tried to think about what my family truly likes, plus a few things they think are only "okay" to see if my tactic would help them reach for the healthies a bit more. I also got the actual SNACK size bags so I wouldn't feel like I needed to fill up a full sandwich bag for just a snack. I was also worried about the cost of using so many bags, but with the exception of the ham&cheese and strawberries, I don't mind just rinsing them out and reusing them.  I chose:

*Cucumbers
Not pictured, because they didn't have any at the store when I went. I'm checking back later so I can slice them up for my oldest, she's the cucumber queen!

*Apples
Also not pictured. I looked at many different ways to slice them without them turning brown, but most of them required to soak them in soda (and NOT rinse them before bagging them) or covering them in lemon juice. My kids like to eat an apple whole anyway, so they're just in the fruit drawer for them to pull out if they want instead of in a baggie and it's fine.

*Strawberries
Really I don't ever plan on actually saving money on strawberries. It will always feel like I'm spending a ton on those haha.

*Grapes
Grape bags always come with SO MANY GRAPES. It's hard to buy a bag/package and feel like you didn't waste your money because it's nearly impossible to eat them all before they get gross. Plucking them, washing them and bagging them makes them feel more manageable and less wasted!

*Mandarin Orange cups (not the healthiest way to go about this one but I already had them so why not)

*Carrots
I use to buy the little bags of mini carrots or pre chopped. I'm not sure why I ever did that. I got the bag of a bunch of whole carrots for a buck and peeled/cut them myself. It seriously took me about 3 minutes, if that. 

*Snap peas
This is one of those "only okay" veggies to my family. They'll rarely get eaten if the full bag is just sitting in the fridge. But stick 'em in a little snack portion baggie (or in my case, I made a few "blended" baggies with the carrots) and it's so much easier to get yourself to eat them

*Cheese sticks and ham
OKAY. So this is probably my favorite. At first I thought, duh I'll get string cheese and some lunch meat. And then I thought about how much money that actually is and I was like nope, never mind. Especially since the lunch meat in the packaged meats section is usually ....... not even meat :(. Haha! I decided to just use the cheese I already buy and cut them into sticks myself. I used FOUR SLICES of cheese is all (once slice per bag). And as for the meat, I like to get black forest ham from the deli for ham & swiss slider sandwiches and sandwiches throughout the week anyway. So I honestly just got a little extra for the snacking and it cost me about $1.50 more. That was worth it to me not be giving them crap meat and also have enough on hand for extra things.

*Celery/Peanut butter
I actually didn't do this. My kids hate celery. *I* hate celery, and my husband likes celery as a way to lick peanut butter. I spent about 2 bucks on a package of 50 mini plastic cups with lids so I could have the option of adding dips to things, but didn't use it for this! 

*Boiled eggs
I do plan on doing this, I just didn't think about it until after I was all done bagging everything and I felt like what I had was enough for the week. 

*Cherry tomatoes
This would be a great idea....if my husband and littlest (the only ones in the family that like tomatoes) liked cherry tomatoes. Picky, picky, ;) I figure when my 3 year old requests a tomato for a snack I can handle cutting one up for her, since it probably won't be super often.

One thing I was worried about is that all the fruits/ham/cheese would disappear before the veggies. So my rules is that the veggies have to be gone before we can refill any of the other snacks the next week.

CUPBOARD SNACKS

I purposely made this snack section smaller so they'd reach for the healthier items in the fridge more often (it works).  Clearly you could choose healthier options here.

*Fruit snacks
 The fruit snacks could be replaced with fruit leathers instead. But I honestly kind of hate those and I'm not going to pretend like it's worthy my money. They are the most sticky pieces of crap ever, despite how healthy they are. Sorry. Plus, with these being the most sugary treat out the box, I can use them as leverage; "you can have a snack from the fridge but if you want a fruit snack you'll need to put your clothes away first. " HA

*Granola bars
There are definitely healthier granola bars in this world, but almost all of them are secretly not even that healthy, and the ones that actually, truly ARE....you might as well eat some cardboard or dry oatmeal. So I opted for a kind that's tasty and on sale :). I got 10 of these for 2 bucks, vs. $5 for 4 of the "healthy" ones. Plus, these are macaroon style so......it would be hard to tell me to get any other kind :)

*Pretzels
Because kids like pretzels and they're about a million dollars cheaper than goldfish (I hate you, goldfish). 

*Graham Crackers/Nutella
So this is where those little cups came in. I got to control the portion of Nutella and you can come up with so many things to dip in it. (I considered putting a veggie dip in with the carrots in the fridge, but unless it was going to be ranch, making the whole thing unhealthy, it wasn't going to happen. Committing to making a hummus dip or something every week ....I just know myself, and that's not going to happen).

FREEZER SNACKS
Not a ton here, but this is what I've started with!

*Yogurt buttons
I know you've seen these on Pinterest everywhere. But I just knew that they'd probably melt so freakin' fast and make them not worth my time. But when my kids started living for GOGURTS every evening for dessert, I was desperate for a cheaper alternative. I made these up (so so SO fast to make) and stored them in the freezer. When my kids are ready for "dessert" (no joke, they call it dessert) I just dump a little handful into those mini cups with a spoon and they feel like the luckiest kids in the world. Plus they got to choose their own flavors. Basically, I can make about 50 "buttons" with one cheap yogurt vs. dropping money on gogurts that are unnecessarily expensive. My only advice is to try and get yogurt that doesn't have chunks of fruit in them. It makes it difficult to squeeze out of the bag when you're making the dots :).

*Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream
I made this a long time ago and it was really good. I decided to make it again and couldn't believe I don't make it regularly! It is literally bananas and peanut butter. That's it.  (2 frozen bananas sliced and 2 T peanut butter.) When you first make it, it's a really really thick shake texture (which is great, and can pass for an ice cream), but I put mine in the freezer so it can turn into REAL creamy, delicious ice cream.Clearly  my husband loves it since he stole some before I could get to it for a picture!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

And We're BACK! With Chicken Noodle Soup

Never mind how I went on a 7 month hiatus. We got settled into our hometown where my husband opened up his Chiropractic practice aaaand I found out I'm pregnant in the middle of all of that, plus we moved a couple of times. It's been a pretty crazy 7 months, but we're all doing great and just happy happy happy! So here I am, and I wanted to make sure my comeback was with something good, and I tell ya what...it really is.

I am not the biggest fan of homemade chicken noodle soups. I'm just not. Most of the time they get really ..... I don't know the word. You know when you cook chicken and there's the fatty pieces mixed with a little juice on the pan? I feel like I'm eating that with puffy odd textured noodles with homemade chicken noodle soup.  (I'm a texture freak, so sorry about that).

I saw this recipe, though, from We Share Our Loves. Our Lives. and I couldn't stop thinking about it. Like is this how ALL of these soups are made? Or is this some kind of genius secret no one knows about? I'm sure it's pretty basic and I'm just behind, but when I told my husband (also a food fanatic) about how this kind was made, he couldn't stop thinking about it either and we set off to make it together. We got a bit carried away with the noodles, so we learned our lesson. But OH MY GOSH I can't even imagine having any other chicken noodle soup now.

The FLAVOR of the broth is beyond anything I've ever had before and of course it's the perfect texture or I wouldn't be telling you about it ;). The only thing is that the recipe calls for two cans of evaporated milk. At that point we looked at the thickness of the soup and we were like meeehhh, it's good the way it is and we were a little terrified the milk would dilute some of that bomb flavor so we didn't use any of it. Mistake? Not sure....not sure if I'll ever find out cause I'll probably just keep making it without it since it was so good this way haha.

I added so many little notes to this recipe so if you're annoyed with that, just click here for the original recipe :).

What you will need:
  •  6 chicken tenderloins (or maybe 3-4 chicken breasts)
  • 1 C water
  • 1 stick butter
  • parsley flakes
  • garlic salt (I added a little onion powder, too but I have no idea how much. I did like she said in the original and was extremely generous with my seasonings, though)
  • Salt & pepper
  • Carrots (whatever kind you like in your soup. The recipe says a bag of them and you can wait for them to get soft but I don't have time for that so I got a can of carrots that were already soft HA)
  • One yellow onion, chopped/minced/diced (however whatever)
  • Celery (umm...I don't know how much the recipe called for. I hate celery so I chopped one up and felt like that was more than enough)
  • (2) 49 oz. cans of chicken broth (I had boxes, so I ended up using 2 1/2 boxes)
  • Noodles (the kind you like? I had a massive bag of these fancy pants noodles I'd been trying to figure out what to do with so I used those)
  • 2 cans evaporated milk
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Place chicken breasts in a baking dish (I used my cast iron skillet) 
  • Add 1 C water 
  • Add the parsley flakes, garlic salt, onion powder and salt and pepper
  • Place the stick of butter somewhere in the pan (like in the middle of all the chicken tenders)
  • Cook chicken for about 30 minutes or until they reach 165 degrees
  • Let the chicken cool
  • While the chicken cools, you can chop up your vegetables (I sauted my onions in butter so I could really control how tender they were)
  • Pour one can (or about 6 cups) of chicken broth into a large pot
  • Add vegetables and cook until carrots are almost done 
  • Add last can (or 6 more cups) of chicken broth and noodles and boil for about 8-10 minutes 
  • Turn temperature to low
  • Cut up chicken into chunks or shred
  • Add the chicken AND the buttery chickenee broth it made from the baking dish into the pot
  • Add the 2 cans evaporated milk and simmer for 10 minutes (um, or not)
  • Before I put the rest away in the fridge, I poured a bunch more broth into it cause I knew it would thicken up quite a bit so a little extra never hurt anybody)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Chicken Cordon Bleu Nuggets

About 2 months before we moved, I started putting together my months worth of dinner menus for after we moved. I knew we'd have to do the majority of our grocery shopping in Idaho Falls (2 1/2 hours away from where we live) so I wanted to be prepared with a budget and an organized list so it would be the last thing I'd have to think about after moving and dealing with Christmas and living out of suitcases!

 I had a lot of fun trying to see if I could find some new dinner ideas, and of course Six Sister's Stuff is always a gold mine for new ideas! (Which by the way they invited me to post on their new site a while back, so if you haven't checked it out already, go to myrecipemagic.com- and post your own recipes, too if you have some!)

Anyways, chicken cordon bleu nuggets. How adorable, right? Of course theirs look more adorable than mine do. But that's only because about half way through making these I was like, "why the heck did I decide to make these again?" I tad bit time consuming haha. But, if you're desperate to get your kids to eat something, this'll do it. My 3 year old went crazy about them! She's not a picky eater, she just doesn't feel like it ever? It's one of the most annoying things in the world. Seriously. So this was wonderful!

Blurry again! How much of a need is it for a new camera when it's to photograph food? Think my husband will agree to that one? Ha! ;)

What you will need:
  • 4-5 chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2" squares
  • 7.5 oz. ham, cut into 1" squares
  • 8 oz. Swiss cheese, cut into 1" squares
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. water
  • 6 oz. box chicken stuffing mix or you can use Italian style bread crumbs (I only had plain bread crumbs on hand and just seasoned it the way I felt like)
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray
  • Place the flour, eggs/water and bread crumbs into the separate, shallow bowls
  • Take one square of chicken and place one slice ham and one slice cheese on top of it. Place another square of chicken on top and insert a toothpick to hold it together
  • Roll nugget into the flour, then the eggs, then the bread crumbs
  • Place nugget onto baking sheet and remove toothpick
  • Once all your nuggets have been coated and place onto the baking sheet, spray butter flavored cooking spray and bake for 20 minutes (I just drizzled them with olive oil and it worked fine! I also flipped them about half way through)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hawaiian Ham & Swiss Sliders

My brother and sister in law made these once and they were so good I couldn't get them off my mind. Then they made them again during Christmas time and I was reminded that I must make them. I'm not sure the exact recipe they used, but I found this similar one!

I browned mine a little extra because I like things that way. Sometimes I actually think the words, "it tastes almost burned...it's so delicious." And that's what I did her. I kept looking at them thinking they could go just a little bit longer when in reality you can totally take them out when the recipe says to :).

One thing I would recommend, is you can go ahead and make these ahead of time and keep them in the fridge until you're ready to bake them! I had these planned for dinner on a pretty busy day, so I put them together before I left and only had to wait 10 minutes for them to bake when we all got home.

Also, be careful when you're opening your poppy seeds. Let's just say I'll be finding poppy seeds all over my kitchen for weeks.



What you will need:

  • 24 slices deli honey ham
  • 6 slices swiss cheese
  • 1 T poppy seeds
  • 1 1/2 T dijon mustard
  • 1/2 C butter melted
  • 1 T onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Mayo
  • 2 pkgs. KINGS HAWAIIAN Original Hawaiian sweet dinner rolls (yeah I just used rolls from the bakery and they were delicious)
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix poppy seeds, dijon mustard, butter, onion powder and Worcestershire sauce in small bowl, set aside
  • Slice rolls open and spread mayo on one side
  • Add ham and swiss cheese
  • Place the sandwiches into a baking dish so they are all close together
  • Pour sauce over the tops of the rolls and cover with foil
  • Let sit for 10 minutes
  • Bake in the oven for another 10 minutes
  • Remove the foil and bake another 2 minutes so the tops browned and crisp

Veggie Dip & Superbowl Food

For a girl that grew up with the Superbowl landing on my birthday or on the day I was wanting to celebrate my birthday, I'm surprisingly not very bitter towards the whole thing ;).

My first memory of a superbowl was when I was about 7. My Mom took my brother and I to Albertsons and let us get whatever treats we wanted. The vision I have stuck in my memory is of my brother and I dumping out all our treats onto his bed with the superbowl on the TV in his room. So of course I associate the superbowl with delicious things now.

I haven't shared this recipe before, and it's usually because it's all eaten before I can take a picture of it. But it is the PERFECT recipe to have ready to go for any get together, especially the super bowl! It is the best veggie dip I have ever had. Ever...ever ever ever. It's not thin and runny, or lumpy and goopy. It's the perfect texture (and believe me, I am a complete psychopath about texture).

I will mention that this is hard for me to actually make. The smell of cream cheese literally makes me gag. Once it's all made though it's absolutely delicious and I couldn't care less about cream cheese being in it.

Keep scrolling, cause I'm sharing a list of foods I'll be making for game day at the bottom!



What you will need:

  • 1 1/4 C sour cream
  • 1 C cream cheese, softened
  • 5 T Ranch dressing mix (or more to taste)

Directions:

  • Using a kitchen-aid or hand mixer, combine the sour cream and cream cheese until blended well and is formed into a nice creamy but firm texture
  • Add in the ranch little by little and taste as you go. I prefer a more extreme ranch flavor whereas my husband could do without quite as much :).
This year I've invited some family&friends to my house for the superbowl. So I get to make whatever the heck I want! So, aside from all the chips, desserts, veggies/dip and soda, here's what's on the menu-

1. Football Cheese Dip
I mean...it's called football cheese dip. And the best cheese dip I've ever had. WIN!

2. Meatballs
Been making these for years. It's straight from my grandma's cookbook. You'll love it!

3. Crack Bread
Go ahead and get creative with this one. Throw on whatever the heck you like!



And of course you can't forget DINNER....

4. My BBQ Root Beer Pulled Pork sandwiches
I still claim that this is the best bbq root beer recipe.

5. Fresh Basil and Pepperoni Tortellini Salad
Honestly this will be eaten throughout the game because I can't keep it away once I've made it. It is soooo goooood. 

6. Corn on the Cob
Who can even have bbq sandwiches without corn on the cob?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Pecan Pie Bars

Today was Martin Luther King Jr. Day and I wanted to make a treat that was relavent for after our FHE lesson on MLKJ and diversity. I discovered one of his favorite desserts was Pecan Pie. I have never had Pecan Pie, and obviously have never made one. I resolved to try it out anyway and skimmed through some recipes. I found this recipe for Pecan Pie Bars. They just looked sooo good I HAD to try them!

And, since I always try to tie in our treats with our FHE lesson...

"Don't *pecan* anyone! We're all equal!"
("pick-on"...get it..?)

SOOO...it turns out I really really like the pecan pie flavor thing. These were so good! I'll definitely be making them again!

Apologies for the grainy picture :(.

What you will need:

Crust

  • 2 C flour
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 C cold butter, cut into chunks (10 2/3 T)
Filling
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C karo syrup
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 2 T butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 2/3 C pecans, chopped
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Prepare a 9x13 baking dish lined with tin foil
  • Blend flour, sugar and salt in large bowl
  • Cut in cold butter chunks until it forms into coarse crumbs
  • Dump the crust mixture into the baking dish and pack it evenly throughout the dish
  • Bake for 20 minutes
  • While the crust is baking, whisk together eggs, karo syrup, sugar, brown sugar, melted butter and vanilla 
  • When that is thoroughly mixed and smooth, add in the chopped nuts and blend
  • When the crust is done baking, pour the filling on top of the crust (freshly out of the oven) and spread evenly over the crust
  • Bake for another 25-30 minutes
  • Allow to cool completely and cut into bars