Thursday, November 29, 2012

Funfetti Cake Batter Chex Mix

I was looking for something for people to munch on at Thanksgiving and I found this recipe on the Six Sisters Blog. This is a must try!!!

It took literally, like 10 minutes...

A lot like Pringles, once you pop you can't stop...I would recommend doubling the batch, especially if you plan to share!

Chex Funfetti Cake Batter
Ingredients:
5 cups Chex cereal (I used Rice Chex, but Corn Chex would work great!)
10 oz (5 squares) vanilla flavored Almond Bark
1 1/2 cups Funfetti cake mix (any kind of cake mix would work)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vegetable shortening

Directions:

1. Melt Almond Bark according to the package directions, adding vegetable shortening to thin (I heard that you can make it without the shortening, but it worked great for me to use it).

2. Pour the cereal into a large bowl and drizzle the melted Almond Bark over the cereal. Mix gently with a large spoon or spatula.

3. Dump the cake mix and powdered sugar onto the cereal and mix gently with large spoon until all the cereal is evenly coated.

4. Enjoy!! It's so good! :)

Adapted from: Six Sisters

Baked Tacos with Fresh Taco Seasoning

Baked Tacos

2 lbs ground beef
1 can refried beans
8 ounce tomato sauce
1 pkg taco seasoning or Homemade Taco Seasoning (see below)

1 ½ cups shredded cheese
18-20 hard taco shells
lettuce, salsa, sour cream, etc for serving.


Brown ground beef. Drain off any fat and add refried beans, tomato sauce, and seasoning. Spoon mixture into taco shells. Place filled shells into a 9×13 pan, standing up. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes or until heated through.

Homemade Taco Seasoning
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon or to taste salt
2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup tomato sauce

1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 pound ground beef

Cook the following ingredients with the ground beef; chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano and salt. Add cornstarch, sugar,  and tomato sauce and continue cooking until meat is done and sauce is slightly thickened. Serve as a filling for tacos.











Monday, November 26, 2012

Crock-pot Cinnamon Almonds

Crock-pot Cinnamon Almonds


1 1/2 C. Sugar
1 1/2 C. Brown Sugar
3 Tbsp. Cinnamon
1/8 tsp. Salt
1 Egg White
2 tsp. vanilla
3 Cups Almonds
1/4 C. Water


In a medium sized bowl, mix together sugars, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In another medium sized bowl, whisk the egg white and vanilla until it’s a little frothy. Add almonds. Make sure the almonds are thoroughly coated in the egg white mixture. Add cinnamon mixture to the almonds and toss until coated. Thoroughly spray with Pam, or whatever, the stoneware of your large crock pot (mine is a 4 quart). Add the divine mixture of almonds and sugars to the crock pot and turn it to low.
Cook ( with the lid on) 3-4 hours stirring every 20 minutes (I only did 3 hours). In the last hour, add the 1/4 C. of water and stir well. This ensures a crunchy yummy coating. (*make sure after you’ve added the water that you continue to cook the nuts for another 45min to an hour.)
You have to stir really well, especially as it gets later in the cooking process.
Line a baking sheet with parchment and spread the almonds flat to cool (if you can wait that long!). The almonds will be sticky at this point, so make sure you separate them a little and have no large mounds.

I had beautiful, crunchy,sugary, dark brown coated almonds. There was quite a bit of leftover sugar bits (and I brazenly snacked on that too!)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes with Hazelnut Buttercream

Who does not LOVE Chocolate and Hazelnut?

These are a great and easy cupcake to make. I made them for a friend in August and of the millions of cupcakes I have made her, she requested these and a glass of hot tea for her birthday :)

1 (19.5) ounce Pillsbury® Family Size Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix
1/2 cup Crisco® Pure Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, plus additional for garnish
HAZELNUT BUTTERCREAM
1/4 cup Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening
Or 1/4 stick Crisco® Baking Sticks All-Vegetable Shortening
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup Jif® Chocolate Flavored Hazelnut Spread
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

For Brownies: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper baking cups. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions using oil, water and eggs. Stir in 1/2 cup of chopped hazelnuts. Divide the batter evenly into baking cups. Bake for 30-32 minutes or until centers are set. Cool 2 minutes and remove from pan. Cool completely prior to frosting.


For Frosting: BEAT shortening, butter and chocolate hazelnut spread in a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, salt and 1 tablespoon milk. Beat slowly until combined. Beat on high, 3 to 5 minutes, adding an additional 1 tablespoon milk at a time to desired consistency.
FROST cupcakes by placing frosting into corner of resealable plastic bag. Cut 1/2-inch off corner of bag. Starting at outside edge, work in circular motion to build up frosting moving towards center, creating a swirl effect. Sprinkle with reserved chopped hazelnuts.



Enjoy your weekend! Happy Saturday!

T minus - 31 days = CHRISTMAS :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wardrobe Wednesday

I often catch myself thinking of the things I have never done. Like skydiving or as simple as never wearing lipstick. It doesn't take much to suffice me, maybe a craft table, something to decorate, wine and some friends but sometimes you need to think about trying something new. Along with yesterdays post, you can try to change your daily routine or trying something new.

Have you ever played the "I've never..." game?

Some may remember this from a drinking game in college or just a gathering with friends.

Don't get it? here you go, Sit in a circle and one person says something that they have never done - ususally something that alot of people have done - then everybody who HAS done that thing has to                                    .  Fill the blank with take a shot, run around the house with no pants on, etc. I think you get the point :)

This game could even be used (clean version) at a bridal shower or a baby shower!

1. Worn Skinny jeans...until recently



 I never thought I would wear skinny jeans. Number one because I don't have the right figure to wear them. Number two I hate when my pants are tight on my ankles.



I do indeed like this pair of skinny jeans.

Sweater - Target
Gray Cami - Banana Republic
Skinny Jeans - Abercrombie and Fitch
Brown Boots - Younkers

2. Never been so drunk, I barfed (Gross but true)

I am not a fan of strong alcohol. If I can taste the alcohol in a Martini, I most likely won't finish the drink. Hand me a UV Blue and Vodka - I am your girl! :)

I have consumed some alcohol in my day but not enough to get sick! I guess I am a wuss, or just hate getting sick.

3. Been to a college party

As, I never actually moved away to college I have never been to a college party. 

4. Been a bridesmaid

I promise, I do have friends...it's just all of them have been married before friendship...

Well, I guess this statement is only true until Tuesday. I am a Bridesmaid in my cousins wedding this week! :)

5. Broken a bone

Yes, for those that know me say this is impossible. My parents have always said my middle name should have been 'Grace'.
Ha, I would tend to agree but I have only had sprains, no broken bones :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Daily Routine - Are you a 'Morningzilla'?

Do you have a daily routine from when you first turn that annoying alarm off? Do you have to do the same thing every morning or your whole day will be thrown off? Are you a creature of habit?
Do you make a pot of coffee, shower, brush your teeth? If your like me...you take 30 minutes longer than you should figuring out what to wear. Putting a shirt on, taking it off. Grabbing a different pair of pants, ugh and the shoes - what shoes should I wear? Everyday, I'm like a broken record. My husband HATES me in the morning, I swear :)

In an effort to make my mornings smoother, I changed my routine. I started to set an outfit out the night before. One that I know goes together, that it FITS and it's comfortable. Comfortable is my middle name!

By now you are probably wondering where I am going with this...I forgot to set clothes out this morning!! UGH! Here we go...it's going to be a long day :(  Part of my problem is I hate getting out of bed! So, if I have my clothes out things go so much smoother. (I think I might have an issue!! LOL)

So today, 35 minutes later, I find an outfit - I am thankful for my outfit and sanity today!! :) Also thankful in advance for the manicure and pedicure I am treating myself too. I think after this day, I might need it! :)

Are you a morning or night person?


Monday, November 19, 2012

Crockpot Applesauce

This was part of what prompted me to do The Perfect Fall Day, I had applesauce in the Crockpot and the smells were permeating through the entire house. It was amazing. This applesauce was great, the only thing I will do next time is peel the skins.

8 medium apples (Use a combination of Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, Fuji, Gala, etc.)
   1 strips of lemon peel - use a vegetable peeler
   1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  3 inch cinnamon stick
  5 tsp light brown sugar (unpacked)

Peel, core and chop the apples. Add the sugar, lemon peel, lemon juice and cinnamon stick. Set crock pot to low and cook for 6 hours. Stir apples occasionally, apples will slowly become a delicious applesauce. Remove cinnamon stick and use an immersion blender to blend until smooth or if you prefer a chunky sauce, leave sauce intact. (I used a whisk, which gave the sauce a nice chunky consistency.

Can and process as you would other recipes or keep refrigerated up to 3 weeks


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hot Colby Ham Sandwiches - Freezer Swap Recipe

One of the recipes I used for the Freezer Swap were these Hot Colby Ham Sandwiches. For these weeks leading up to the holidays, it is so convenient having meals prepped and ready to cook.

Hot Colby Ham Sandwiches

1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
2 to 3 teaspoons sugar
15 dinner rolls (about 3-inch diameter), sliced
15 slices Colby cheese
15 thin slices deli ham (about 1 pound)
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese


In a small bowl, combine the butter, mustard, onion, poppy seeds and sugar. Place roll bottoms, cut side up, in an ungreased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Top each with Colby cheese, ham and mozzarella. Drizzle with half of the butter mixture. Replace roll tops. Drizzle with remaining butter mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Yield: 15 servings.

Friday, November 16, 2012

High 5 for Friday

It's Friday!! Can you believe that next week is Thanksgiving??!! Just a mere few days now until my beautiful cousin gets married!!

1. Homemade gifts - I started making these gifts for Christmas. I love giving something homemade. In fact most of the gifts this year are going to be homemade. 

Wait for my Flip Chart Recipe Cards, Wine/Olive Oil Dispenser and more.


2. My Christmas theme, yeap that is a Christmas tree up :) Theme is Red, Silver and White this year. 


4. Another homemade item - I met a good friend for lunch, she is 7 months pregnant. I wanted to make her something unique. Tutorial to follow.


4. Herbalife Shakes - I started Herbalife shakes this week. So far I am loving the Butter Pecan and Butterfinger! :)


5. These Baked Tacos


Want to share your top 5?

Link up below and have a wonderful weekend!!

Photobucket

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Italian Mac and Cheese - Freezer Swap Recipe

Italian Mac and Cheese

This is the perfect pasta on cold night. Pull it out of the freezer the night before and cook for about 40 minutes. You have a nice dinner with no prep work :)

I think that is a win-win.


Ingredients:

2 lbs ground beef
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes 
6 oz can tomato paste
26.5 oz pasta sauce
2 carrots peeled and shredded
1/2 onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped 
1 cup chopped frozen spinach (fresh baby spinach works great too)
1 lb box of medium shell pasta
16 oz reduced fat cottage cheese
16 oz shredded part skim Mozzarella
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp Italian seasoning
salt and pepper and sugar to taste

Directions:

Fill a large pan with water and set it over medium high heat to boil.  Brown the ground beef and drain.  Add 2 tsp of oil to a large pan and saute the carrot, onion and green pepper until just tender.  Add the spinach and heat through.



Once the water is boiling in the other pot add the dry shells and stir.  Boil the pasta to the least amount of time recommended on the box.  To the large pot with the veggies add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and the tomato sauce.  Mix well.  Add a tsp or two of white sugar if the sauce tastes too sour.  Sprinkle in t tsp Italian seasoning.  Add the browned ground beef into the tomato sauce mixture and stir well.  Remove from heat.


This is a very thick sauce.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain the shells and return them to the pot.  Add in all the cottage cheese, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese.


Now lay out three 8x8 pans.  Put 1/3 of the shells and cottage cheese mixture into each pan. Now add 1/3 of the beefy marinara sauce to each pan. Top each pan with 1/3 of the shredded Mozzarella cheese. 



Now cover each pan with foil and label.  Put one pan in the oven to bake for dinner.  Since all the ingredients are fully cooked you can bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. 

The other two pans go into the freezer for later use.  Thaw in the refrigerator for two day. Then bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wardrbe Wednesday - Herbalife

My morning started with a Herbalife Shake - Butter Pecan! It was delicious. Someone told me about these shakes the other day, I thought I would give them a whirl. After my Healthworks assessment yesterday...I am not high risk, however, I have added a few unwanted pounds. I have got to do something to get back down to my normal weight...

Have you heard of herballife? What do you think?

While it is getting very cold here in Iowa, there was snow in some areas last week. UGH! Already?

I have decided that the Christmas stuff is going up! Look for this years theme coming up.

While bright colors are not typical for me this time of year, I decided to go with a bright blue today.


After my return from China, I lost a pair of black pants. The week we returned I caught a sale at Marshall's!!


Scarf - Marshall's
White Cardi - The LOFT
Blue Tee - Old Navy
Black Slacks - Marshall's
Coach shoes - Marshall's

Thankful Tuesday

Today's post is a little different than normal. There is no DIY Project, Clothes, or Recipes. Today is a day that I want to say thanks. I want to share the things in life I am most thankful for. Today is my sappy and lengthy blog post day... :)

I found this quote today and it seemed fitting...










I am thankful for my health, food and shelter. I am able to have a warm meal every day in the shelter of my home. I am healthy according to my Healthworks assessment this morning, I have good cholesterol, low blood sugar and great blood pressure.

I am thankful for my family and friends. They love me for who I am. They put up with my crazy ass!

I am thankful for my husband, my rock, my best friend. He deals with me everyday, which I know is not easy :) I love him very much.

I am thankful for my freedom. Thank you to all those Veterans and soldiers that sacrificed there lives for me to have a normal life. The things you had to overcome for us back at home, we will forever be indebted to you.

I am thankful for communication to those afar. I am able to communicate to my family in China from half way around the world.

I am thankful for the DVR. I love that I can tape all my shows! For those cold nights, soup, sweats and blankets - I can have my own little party!

I am thankful for the Holidays. I can share the holidays with those that I love.

I am thankful for my car. For about a year the sending unit in the fuel tank has been bad and it has a buzz like a bee. It is so bad that I can't talk on the phone in it, the radio has to be over half way up, my neighbors can hear me coming two blocks away AND last it is dangerous. I am fortunate for a great dealership and car dealer. They fit it in today, and both pieces were fixed!!

I will quit while I still have your attention :)

I am thankful for you. Thank you for your support and for reading!!! I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Caramel Apple Spice Milky Way Cookies

My father-in-law brought us some apples from the orchard so I have been making lots of apple recipes and having lots of apples for snacks! There is something about the 'snap' and 'crunch' of a fresh orchard apple that just makes them so much better!!!

I love apples and love cookies so here you go...


Caramel Apple Spice Milky Way Cookies

1 box spice cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 medium apple, peeled and roughly diced (I used Gala, but Golden Delicious would work too)
1 tsp cinnamon
About 20-24 Caramel Apple Milky Way candies, unwrapped
1/4 cup cinnamon sugar

Anything with a candy bar in the middle has to be good!



Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with silicone liners or spray lightly with cooking spray. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs and oil until blended. Stir in the apples and the teaspoon of cinnamon to combine. Scoop out heaping Tablespoonfuls of dough and place it in your palm. Press an unwrapped candy in the center of the cookie dough ball and gently fold the dough around the candy to enclose it. Place the filled cookie dough on the baking sheets, 1-2″ apart. Sprinkle the dough balls with cinnamon sugar, then bake for approx. 8-10 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time to ensure even cooking. Allow to cool 5 minutes on the pan, then carefully transfer to wire racks to finish cooling.


MMMMMMMMMMM...tasty

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wardrobe Wednesday - Glitz

It's no secret that I am very new to this whole wardrobe matching and coordinating thing, but the support from my readers is showing. I definitely have to put my brain and creativity to use on a regular basis. I have had a blast the last few months blogging and I hope it only gets better from here. It is great to see how many of you love this idea and continue to follow week by week. Thank you for taking the time to get excited about what excites me :)


This week the key piece is the Full Sequin Sweater. It can 'Glitz' up just about anything. Including a White Cami and a pair of black slack 's. I have even wore this over a small dress, jeans and ....yeap you guessed it with leggings. :) While still being very work appropriate it has a bit of a sexy edge...

There is a story behind this wonderful Sequin sweater...My mom and I were Christmas shopping and noticed a beautiful sweater on a lady. Even though we were in a hurry that day, we ran to Express to pick up this sweater. After seeing it was new to the rack and $80, I chose to skip the sweater.

Three months later, after Holiday shopping, this beautiful sweater caught my eye on the 70% rack at Express! Bonus Buy!! :) She's all mine!




Sequin Sweater - Express
White Lace Camisole - Target
Black Slacks - Target
Silver Heels - CATO Fashions
Necklace - Lia Sophia
Goddy Ring - Lia Sohpia

Krafting with Kids

After breakfast and lunch, naps, a few meltdowns, and a little clean up; it was craft time. I pulled out an old sheet and had the girls make their own coasters. This is such a clever idea for kids to give parents for Christmas or Birthday.



Supplies:
Ceramic Tiles
Mod Podge
Foam Brush
Cardstock; Stencils; Rub-ons, etc
Glaze Gloss
Felt Pads; Rubber Pads

Each had 2 (4x4) pieces of cardstock to draw their own picture. This is what we came up with.



Use a (4) 4" ceramic tile from Menards of any color (white is the best ) and paint with Mod Podge ( using a foam brush ), allow to dry, use rub-on stencils, decorative cardstock, plain cardstock with crayon drawing, monogram letters or even holiday themed. Once finished coat three time with Mod Podge again. After that you will use a spray glaze gloss to seal it all in. The last step is to apply felt pads to the bottom so the coaster will not scratch the table.



Here are my creations...



Monday, November 5, 2012

Hosting A Freezer Swap

About 2 years ago I met a girl, Allysa. She walked into my life as a co-worker and since has continued as a best friend. Funny how things work out? 

She got me started on Weight Watchers (I lost 82 pounds), she was my inspiration to start cooking (which I never did), and she got me hooked on following blogs which lead to where I am today! :) Loving to Blog, it is my home away from home. Alright enough with the mush!!

I am very creative and always looking for an excuse to host another get together with friends at my house...

So when Ally approached me with the Freezer Swap, there was no hesitation in the answer!

How did we do it?

Well, we gathered names of our girlfriends, find a kitchen (hopefully bigger than mine) and cook, bake, divide, and enjoy with your family. We had a GREAT day of laughing and eating. We started at 10am and finished up about 5:00pm. Yeap, long day but we all moved at our own speed, took breaks...often and just enjoyed the company. We enjoyed it so much we are looking to build this group bigger! You interested?

Meet the Team



Angie F - Illinois City, Illinois
Myself - Muscatine, Iowa
Melissa - Wilton, Iowa
Ally B - Wilton, Iowa
Kelly H - East Moline, Illinois

So how does a freezer swap work:

There are two different rules of thought on Freezer Swaps.  You can do it one of two ways.  The first way is to gather as many friends as you can, if 10 girls show up then they need to pick one meal and make it 10 times.  That way everyone goes home with one of their meals.

The second way is to invite a smaller group, say 5.  Each person makes 3 meals, 5 times.  So each person goes home with one of your meals.  In the end it would equal 15 meals a person.  Example:  You decide to make potato soup.  You would need to make that soup 5 times {or 4 if you don't care to take home your own meal}, since there are 5 girls in attendance.  That way each girl would go home with a batch of potato soup.


In order to make it a little smoother, we did all of our prep work the night before. IE~ cook meats, chop veggies, write recipes, and prep all containers. This helped immensely in my tiny little kitchen :) 

Each person is in charge of packaging all meals individually. Also, making sure each person has the directions and recipes on how to prepare your meal. 

Don't forget your bags, you will need a BIG one to get all of these goodies back home with you :)

Some of the meals we made this weekend were:
  • Vegetable Beef Soup
  • Sausage & Bacon Breakfast Muffins
  • Ham & Colby Baked Sandwiches
  • Twice Baked Potatoes
  • Mini Pumpkin Pies
  • Chicken Fajita Chowder
  • Chicken Pesto Meatballs
  • Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo Stuffed Shells
  • Caramel Stuffed Brownies
  • Baked Spaghetti
  • Apple Bread
  • Italian Mac-n-Cheese
  • M&M Pudding Cooking Dough
  • Mexican Style Chicken Soup
  • Rolo Pretzels with a Reese's Pieces
Some pictures from our productive day...














Here is what everyone went home with  


 Have more questions about hosting a Freezer Swap?  

Drop it in the comments...