Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts

Friday, October 30, 2015

Quick and Easy Halloween Treat...

There's never enough time and never enough fairy dust to make everything fun and magical for the kids during the holidays. I often find myself caught between practical mom and fun mom so I'm always looking for shortcuts. I discovered this shortcut 6 years ago preparing for Hallie's 4th birthday party when I was running short on time and I needed a Halloween treat fast. (So short on time that I even bought sheet brownies from Sams club!) It's now an easy go-to when I'm looking for a festive treat and the generic mini-cupcakes stacked 10 rows high at Wal-mart just aren't cutting it.

You can find all the details in my post at

Quick and Easy Halloween Treat
Quick and Easy Halloween Treat
Quick and Easy Halloween Treat
Quick and Easy Halloween Treat

Thursday, August 27, 2015

BBQ Tip...

Summer = BBQ. And BBQ = Hot Dogs. Its hot dog season.
BBQ Tip: Spiral cut hot dogs
And before you think – the way you cut your hot dog can’t possibly make a difference in the taste – let me tell you it totally does.

With very little effort – your hot dogs will taste better than ever before.

The supply list is pretty short: Hot dogs, skewers (metal or wooden) and a knife.

Start with your favorite brand of hot dog (mine happens to be the Kirkland All Beef hot dogs from Costco) and a skewer.
BBQ Tip: Spiral cut hot dogs
Skewer your hot dog down the middle.
BBQ Tip: Spiral cut hot dogs
Starting on one end, take a knife and cut at an angle all the way to the skewer. Rotate your hot dog until you reach the end.
BBQ Tip: Spiral cut hot dogs

Remove the hot dog from the skewer and barbecue.
BBQ Tip: Spiral cut hot dogs
BBQ Tip: Spiral cut hot dogs
The hot dogs plump up real nice and the edges of the spiral get nice and crisp. Not to mention the spiral edges give more room for your favorite condiments. Nothing beats a condiment bar with your spiral dog – we’ve even thrown a party with a hot dog bar and everyone walks away happy. Happy summer grilling!
BBQ Tip: Spiral cut hot dogs
I published this originally at I Heart Naptime.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mall Pretzels...

While passing through Utah on our way to Idaho - we stopped by to see some old friends from our Milwaukee days. We gathered for a play date and my loving and ambitious friend Leslie thought ahead and made pretzel dough. So by the time we showed up to play and catch up - the kids were busy making pretzels. They may not have been the most beautiful pretzels. In fact, some weren't considered pretzels at all - there were swords, balls, braids - the pretzel dough pretty much became play dough that we cooked. And as unappetizing as some of them looked, they were all delicious. I'm a sucker for just about any bread.
Life with Fingerprings: Mall Pretzels

The kids took about 30 minutes to become reacquainted and then they were pretty much best friends that couldn't stand to say goodbye to each other. There was beauty salon and nerf gun wars and cars outside on the patio. They played for hours. We laughed about how much our families have grown since our babysitting coop days years ago. Here's a picture of our two families all grown up (another friend had already left with her four girls). We'll continue to snap a picture like this every year!
Life with Fingerprings: Mall Pretzels

And it seems as though every other year or so we're introducing soon-to-be friends.
Life with Fingerprings: Mall Pretzels

And because I really did love the pretzels, I snagged the recipe off the counter.

Mall Pretzels
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/8 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup bread flour

2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoons butter melted
2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast, brown sugar and salt in 1 1/2 cups warm water. Stir in flour, and knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover, and let rise for one hour.

Combine 2 cups warm water and baking soda in an 8 inch square pan. Line 6 baking sheets with parchment paper.
After dough has risen, cut into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a 3 foot rope, pencil thin or thinner. Twist into a pretzel shape, and dip into the baking soda solution. Place onto parchment covered baking sheets, and let rise 15 to 20 minutes.
Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).

Bake in the preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with coarse salt, garlic salt or cinnamon sugar.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Dinner Group...

Our friend suggested we start a dinner group: An evening where we cook something new as a group and enjoy the meal together. She suggested the first meal; fresh spring rolls and sukiyaki. I had no clue what sukiyaki even was. Her brother had served a mission in Japan and had come home and taught the family how to make it - she was passing on the knowledge to us.

She sent out food assignments as to what we needed to bring. I probably called her three times asking her questions about my assignments. How big should I cut the celery? Is the special type of cabbage really needed? Do you want me to cook a whole pack of noodles or will a half pack do?

I was a little concerned prepping my items thinking I should probably eat something before hand because I couldn't imagine a decent meal coming out of the things I was cutting up!

But the meal did not disappoint.
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The spring rolls were delicious - angel noodles, red peppers, mango, carrots, mint, topped with a peanut sauce wrapped in rice paper. Never would I have thrown those foods together, but it worked well.

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The main course was enjoyable - very Melting Pot-ish. A wide variety of veggies, chicken, noodles and tofu cook at the table in a teriyaki sauce. You then spoon out the items you wish to eat and serve it over rice. I was a fan of everything but the tofu. Just not my thing!

I'm pretty sure I was stuffed after multiple spring rolls - but I made room for the sukiyaki and I'm glad I did. It was tasty - I love teriyaki sauce! I was happy to see there were leftovers which I enjoyed for a few days later.

Our first dinner group left the expectations a little high for the future. I'm not sure what we'll be cooking next - but even if the dinner falls short, the company will still be great!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Birthday Cake Rice Krispies...

These are an oldie but a goodie in our house. Bennett's birthday is still three weeks away but the way he's talking about it, you'd think it was tomorrow!

Like all rice krispies, these were easy to make and virtually impossible to screw up!
6 cups Rice Krispies
1 bag of miniature marshallows
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup yellow cake mix (the original called for less, but I liked a little more flavor)

Melt marshmallows with butter. Once it's almost melted add the dry cake mix. Mix with the cereal. Once marshmallows are stirred in well add a lot of sprinkles. Don't stir a whole lot once the sprinkles have been poured in because it dye will start to color your treats. Press into greased 13x9 cake pan. Add more sprinkles to the top and lightly press down so they stick. Let them sit for 30 minutes before cutting into them. (I like mine a little more gooey, so I add some more marshmallows!)

We made a pan when some cousins were over and loved them so much we made them again the next afternoon. Since you only use a 1/2 cup of the cake mix, you would hate to have any of it go to you must make these treats a couple days in a row. If you have very little self control, you can also put the extra mix in the freezer and save for another day!

Can you imagine other holidays...Fourth of July, Valentines, Christmas, Halloween...there are endless possibilites here!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Bean dip recipe...

Our favorite Mexican restaurant closed down last fall and we've been going through serious bean dip withdrawals. I've been on the hunt for a good comparison and I found an equal match...18 minutes away. That is way too far to get a bean fix in case you were wondering. I've tried a lot of recipes to find "the one". We've altered recipes and altered them again. I've thrown whole batches away because they didn't work for us. But we found one. We eat it with chips, we eat it in burritos. The kids like it. Wins all the way around.
Life with Fingerprints: Easy homemade bean dip made from scratch
1 lb dry pinto beans
2 quarts (8 cups) water
1 small onion
4 Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tsps jalapeƱo (we use canned so the heat is consistent)
2 tbsp green chiles
2 tsps onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 brick of cream cheese

Soak beans in a bowl or pot overnight in 8 cups of cold water.
Life with Fingerprints: Easy homemade bean dip made from scratch
Drain and rinse beans after soaking. Place beans in a pot with 8 cups of water and diced onion (or dried onion). Cover with a lid and cook on high for 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

Once cooked (they should be fully tender when pierced with a fork), ladle out 1 3/4 cups of the water and reserve. Drain remaining water by pouring beans into a colander. Place beans, reserved 3/4 cups of water, butter, cream cheese, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin and pepper in a blender.
Life with Fingerprints: Easy homemade bean dip made from scratch
Cover blender with lid and blend on low/medium speed for about 1 minute or until well blended. If it is too thick after blending, add more of your reserved water until its the right consistency.
Life with Fingerprints: Easy homemade bean dip made from scratchg
Pour mixture into a large bowl, stir in shredded cheese. Serve warm with tortilla chips. Store in the fridge.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Peppermint Oreo Dessert...

I posted this over at so I figured I would share it here as well:

When someone in our family requests a cake (for birthday or otherwise) its always Oreo Frozen Delight. But the minute peppermint ice cream hits the grocery freezer our family’s favorite dessert gets a holiday makeover. This takes just a few minutes to throw together and it will have your guests begging for more!

Here’s what you need:
Life with Fingerprints: Peppermint Oreo Dessert with peppermint Joe-Joes
Candy Cane Joe Joes
Peppermint Ice Cream (Blue Bell is my absolute favorite)
1 stick of butter
Cool Whip
Candy Canes

Crush or blend a box of Candy Cane Joe-Joes in a food processor or blender. (You can substitute regular Oreos if you don’t have a Trader Joes close). Typically we make Oreo Delight in a 9×13 glass pan, but part of the holiday makeover is making it a little more fancy by creating layers in a springform pan. Divide the crushed cookies into two bowls. Melt 1/4 butter and mix with one bowl of Oreos. Press Oreos into a greased springform pan.

Life with Fingerprints: Peppermint Oreo Dessert with peppermint Joe-Joes
Put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes until firm. Soften 1/2 of the container of peppermint ice cream. You can leave it at room temperature to soften or you can be impatient like myself and pop it in the microwave for just a bit, stir, microwave, stir. Spread over the Oreo mixture and freeze until firm.
Life with Fingerprints: Peppermint Oreo Dessert with peppermint Joe-Joes
Create another Oreo layer with the second bowl of crushed Oreos and 1/4 cup of butter. Freeze. Use the second half of the peppermint ice-cream and press into the pan. Freeze for 2-3 hours.

Once your ready to serve, run a warm wash cloth along the outside of the pan and release the spring. Top with softened cool whip, drizzle with chocolate syrup and sprinkle with crushed candy canes.

Now just try and contain yourself from licking every plate as you hand them to your guests!
Life with Fingerprints: Peppermint Oreo Dessert with peppermint Joe-Joes
Life with Fingerprints: Peppermint Oreo Dessert with peppermint Joe-Joes
Life with Fingerprints: Peppermint Oreo Dessert with peppermint Joe-Joes

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Oreo Chex Mix...

A while back, I found oreos on sale - the cheapest I'd seen them and I stocked up. I bought 18 in one stop and the next time I was at the store I felt the urge to buy 4 more. The shelf was overflowing and everyone who saw our pantry laughed at the insane amount. However, we're just three months in and the stash is dwindling to just a few bags. I'm kicking myself for not buying more.

The kids take oreos in their lunch. Steve likes oreos and milk. We've had frozen oreo delight. Oreo milkshakes. And...oreo chex mix. Chex mix is a staple at our house and we've played around with many varieties, but this one has stuck. And we seem to have plenty of oreos on hand!

Life with Fingerprints: Oreo Chex Mix
OREO CHEX MIX - or Oreo Muddy Buddies
5 C. rice chex cereal
1 C. white chocolate melts (or chocolate chips)
8 Oreos finely crushed
½ C. powdered sugar

5 C. rice chex cereal
1 C. milk chocolate melts (or chocolate chips)
8 Oreos finely crushed
½ C. powdered sugar
Extra chopped Oreos

You'll see that the recipe is divided into two sections. You make have using white chocolate and half using chocolate and then mix them together in a bowl.

Melt white chocolate in a microwave bowl and stir until smooth, make sure not to overcook. Cook in short intervals and stir. Pour over chex cereal and stir. Put it in a bag or bowl with a lid, add powdered sugar and finely crushed oreos and shake.

Repeat with chocolate.

Once cooled, mix the white chocolate and chocolate chex into the same bowl and add some extra chopped oreos.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Hard Rock Cafe Baked Potato Soup...

Perhaps it's the Idaho girl in me but I love a potato just about any way you cook it. I even like potatoes in flake form which my husband lovingly refers to as fake potatoes. So throwing potatoes in a soup (another favorite of mine) is destined to be amazing. I know our cool Arizona temperatures this week pale in comparison to the majority of the country, but it dropped into the low 60's which means its a soup week for us!

This recipe is from a friend and the first time I ate it, it was love at first bite. It's creamy, it has bacon and just enough kick to keep it interesting.

Life With Fingerprints: Hard Rock Cafe Baked Potato Soup
6 · to 8 slices bacon, fried crisp, drippings reserved
1 cup · onions -- diced
2/3 cup · flour
6 cup · hot chicken stock
4 cup · baked potatoes -- peeled and cubed (I throw them in the microwave when I'm running low on time)
1 cup · heavy cream (I've also made this with an additional cup of milk instead of cream and it turned out great!)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup · parsley -- chopped or 3 tsp dried
1 1/2 teaspoon · granulated garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon · dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoon · salt
1 1/2 teaspoon · hot sauce (I add less than this amount and then add more to taste because every hot sauce is different)
1 teaspoon · coarsely ground pepper
1 cup · Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup · green onions, white part only -- diced

Chop cooked bacon and reserve drippings.Cook onions in drippings over medium-high heat until transparent, about 3 minutes. Add flour, stirring to prevent lumps. Cook 2-3 minutes until mixture is golden. Add chicken stock gradually, whisking to prevent lumps, until liquid thickens. Reduce heat to simmer and add potatoes, cream, chopped bacon, parsley, garlic, basil, salt, pepper sauce and black pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes; do not allow to boil. Add grated cheese and green onions. Heat until cheese melts smoothly. Garnish each serving as desired with chopped bacon, grated cheese and chopped parsley. Makes 2 quarts, about 8 servings.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Manly Caramel Corn...

How many guys does it take to make caramel corn?? You need someone to pour the caramel, someone to stir the popcorn and there's always a need for a supervisor, right? Life with Fingerprints: Manly Caramel Corn Steve's brother makes a delicious caramel corn and we were there to witness the magic one evening. As you can see, these guys were having far too much fun in the kitchen. Life with Fingerprints: Manly Caramel Corn It's easy to make and it's a crowd pleaser - we took it to a family gathering last weekend and it was gone in no time. Life with Fingerprints: Manly Caramel Corn
Manly Caramel Corn
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 lb brown sugar (about 2 1/4 cups packed)
1 cup Karo Syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups unpopped popcorn

Pop the popcorn and set aside. Melt the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup over medium heat. After mixture comes to a low boil, add the sweetened condensed milk. Stir constantly for 3-5 minutes scraping the sides and especially the bottom of the pan to prevent any burning. Stir until mixture reaches a soft ball stage (At this temperature, sugar syrup dropped into cold water will form a soft, flexible ball. If you remove the ball from water, it will flatten like a pancake after a few moments in your hand. You can also use a candy thermometer if you have one). The longer you cook it the firmer the caramel will be. Once it reaches soft ball stage, remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour over popcorn in a large bowl and stir until evenly coated. This is a sticky corn and will remain soft. Life with Fingerprints: Manly Caramel Corn We wrapped a few balls in saran wrap for Hallie to use in lunches and several days later they were still soft. It's the perfect fall treat.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sugar Cookie Cake...

When the Pothiers get together for a birthday or holiday celebration it is a big crowd. Typically the easiest way to treat so many people to dessert is to make a sheet cake. Depending on the RSVPs it may be one or possibly two sheet cakes. Most everyone is familiar with the traditional chocolate "Texas Sheet Cake", and it's a family staple. But last year my SIL Laurel decided to mix things up and bring a "Montana Sheet Cake" to a gathering. It has since been lovingly renamed sugar cookie cake (thanks to the almond extract) by our family and it is delicious. Two weeks ago I decided to make one while visiting my family in Idaho and just 5 days after it was devoured, my SIL had purchased the ingredients for me to make it again. It's addicting if you like sugar cookies.

Here is the recipe from Laurel, from her friend, from her niece, from her monkey's uncle. I love how recipes float around!

Life with Fingerprints: Sugar Cookie Cake SUGAR COOKIE CAKE
2 1/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cubes butter
1 cup water
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup sour cream

Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Heat butter and water in a saucepan until butter melts and pour over dry ingredients. Mix until smooth. Add eggs, soda, extract and sour cream, mixing after each addition. Bake in a half sheet pan (18x13) at 350 for 20 minutes.

2 cubes of butter
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp almond extract
5-6 cups powdered sugar
Heat all ingredients except sugar until butter melts. Remove from heat and add sugar gradually. Let cake cool before topping with frosting.

I make the frosting really thick. I like it to resemble sugar cookie frosting but you can alter it to your preference.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Broiled corn...

One of my favorite summer foods is corn on the cob. I've boiled, grilled, steamed and frozen corn on the cob. Although my mom would argue that it's a starch, I claim it to be my favorite vegetable. However, corn is not readily available most of the year and even when it is available, it takes some work.

I was at Paradise Bakery a while back eating my favorite: BBQ chopped chicken salad which comes topped with grilled corn. I commented to my friend that I would put grilled corn on every salad if I had it on hand. That is when I was introduced to a very simple yet genius concept: broiled corn.

Don't get me wrong- nothing truly compares to freshly grilled corn, but this is a great alternative.

Take a bag of frozen corn, toss it with melted butter (you can also use oil, but the butter flavor is more like my grilled corn) and throw in some salt and pepper. Spread it out on a cookie sheet and broil in the oven for a few minutes. If you broil too long the kernals start to shrivel, so watch them.

That's it. Grilled-like corn in no time to throw on top of a salad or even as a vegetable (or starch) to go with dinner. Life with Fingerprints: Broiled Corn I'm still going to grill my corn this summer, but the advantage of broilng - the kernals don't get stuck in your front teeth while eating them off the cob (causing conversation embarrassment) and the juices don't shoot across the table hitting your dinner guest!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fresh Squeezed Orange Julius...

Our 12 orange trees in the grove that we call a backyard are in their prime. We've had fresh squeezed juice constantly in our fridge for weeks and we have several weeks to go. I've been trying to come up with new recipes involving oranges just to use some more up, but I'm coming up a little short. Oranges aren't as universal as I was thinking they might be, so we're stuck with orange juice, juice. Really creative, I know! If anyone has any great orange based recipes please let me know, we're open for all ideas!!

A while back I thought to make some orange julius. It was always a mall favorite of mine stemming from my grandmother who would like to get them as a treat. Fresh Squeezed orange julius I scoured the internet and found several recipes, we've been trying them out and have compiled a couple to come up with our favorite.

16 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp vanilla pudding powder
1/4 sugar (depending on the sweetness of your oranges, we've added more or less)

Pour the orange juice into the blender. Add enough ice so the juice rises to the 32oz mark, add sugar, vanilla and pudding and blend. Blend for a couple minutes and serve immediately.

We've been making these two times a day and wouldn't mind throwing in a third round for breakfast! I don't think the kids would complain! 20130311-DSC_8580 photo 20130311-DSC_8580.jpg 20130311-DSC_8581 photo 20130311-DSC_8581.jpg

Monday, February 18, 2013

Cinnamon Chip Bread...

Cinnamon is probably my favorite spice, which is no surprise why cinnamon rolls are my favorite dessert. But I would feel guilty eating cinnamon rolls on a daily basis so instead I enjoy cinnamon bread. One of my favorites is Great Harvest Cinnamon Burst bread. While living by Steve's brother in Milwaukee, they introduced us to the idea of making french toast with cinnamon burst - without sounding overly dramatic, it was life changing! So over the years I've made several different copy cat versions and tweaked it slightly to our liking. 20130218-DSC_7973 photo 20130218-DSC_7973.jpg

Cinnamon Chip Bread
2 cups water
2 cups milk
2/3 cup sugar
5 teaspoons yeast
2/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1 tablespoon salt
7-9 cups flour
1 10oz bag of Cinnamon chips*

Heat water and milk in the microwave until it is warm - around 100-120F. Using a stand mixer or Bosch mixer, put yeast, 2 tbsp (of the 2/3 cup) of sugar and water/milk mixture in a bowl and let yeast bubble for 5-10 minutes.

Add the remaining sugar, oil and eggs. Mix well. Add two cups of flour and mix well - a minute or two. Add salt and remaining flour until mixture pulls away from bowl. Your dough will be slightly sticky. (don't add too much flour; it will make the dough tough and dense) Add cinnamon chips and mix - the chips will start to melt due to the warm bread, so work quickly. Let dough rise until doubled in size. 20130217-DSC_7959 photo 20130217-DSC_7959.jpg Shape into 4 loaves and let them rise again for 30 mins-60mins. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

*Cinnamon chips may be hard for some to find. Our local Wal-mart carries them next to the chocolate chips. Most grocery stores bring them in for the holidays and you can stock up! 20130218-photo (18) photo 20130218-photo18.jpg

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lights and cocoa...

We have "that" house in our neighborhood. The house that goes all out for the holidays. The one that coordinates a series of songs to light movement. The one that has cars lined up in front to catch the 30 minute show. Yes, we have "that" house in the neighborhood and because we're not right next to them, we actually like it. Sunday night on the drive home from family, we stop by for a visit. On my way home from evening church activities, I stop by and take a look.

We even made an evening of it with some cousins. We got bundled (as much as we need bundling in Arizona) and drove the neighborhood with an extra long stop at the fun house. What's Christmas lights without a little hot chocolate? We made some crock-pot cocoa that was nice and hot by the time we finished with the lights.

1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
7 cups of milk (original recipe called for 6, but it was really rich, so we toned it down just a bit!)
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups of milk chocolate

As if the cocoa by itself wasn't rich enough, we threw in some peppermint marshmallows, whipped cream, and some mint ice cream. Death by cocoa. Totally worth it!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Reindeer Crunch...

Steve came home from work last week and says, "I'm really sorry, but..." Long pause. "There's a holiday bake-off and I didn't sign up for it because I don't bake, but then someone dropped out so they needed me to fill in - I tried getting out of it, but they said you could help me, we need to make something tomorrow night." He then sported the best puppy dog eyes ever.

Of course I wasn't going to leave him hanging. We started to brainstorm some different treats. We came up with a great idea, a little labor intensive but it would be awesome. After we finalized the idea he adds, "It might be a better idea to go with something good, but not great, because if we win, we stay in the competition." Heaven knows I didn't want to be involved in Steve's company bake-off, so we came up with a new idea.

Thursday night rolled around and it was chaotic. Our floors were being worked on so we could barely here ourselves think. Bennett was long past due for bedtime even though it was only 6:30 and Hallie had a school project she was working on. The idea we had settled on was surely not going to be completed. Back-up plan - search through the cupboard and see what we could throw together. Lucky for us we had all the ingredients for Muddy Buddies. Not exactly a holiday treat but we were scraping the bottom of the barrel for ideas.

I decided to swap out the peanut butter and add more chocolate chips and added some peppermint extract. Fail. I thought perhaps I got the chocolate chips too hot so I tried it again. That was clearly not the problem. Fail. I realized I removed all the oil when I eliminated the peanut butter so I added it back in with butter. This almost worked. But the chocolate was still too think. So my persistance paid off when on my fourth try I finally created a product that was worth eating! For how much time these ended up taking we would've been better off making the first idea we came up with! We made these again for a family gathering this weekend and they were gone in no time - fantastic holiday treat!
9 cups Chex cereal (I use rice)
2 cups chocolate chips
1/3 cup butter
1 tsp peppermint extract
Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking bits
Powdered Sugar

Melt chocolate chips and butter over medium heat, if you're chocolate is too thick, add more butter. Add 1 tsp of peppermint extract. Pour chocolate mixture over chex in a ziploc bag and toss with peppermint baking bits. (Or you can add the baking bits to the chocolate, just make sure the chocolate isn't too hot or it will melt the bits) Pour powered sugar into ziploc bag and toss to coat. I start with a cup and a half and add more as it soaks into the chocolate.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Canned Salsa...

When I was growing up we had a large garden that produced a lot of food. We would spend time during the summer weeding and harvesting the "crop". My mom did the majority of the canning on her own, but I was there. At her feet. In her way I'm sure.

On salsa day, the house would fill with the smell of onions and peppers, enough to make your eyes burn. There was a bag of chips on the counter used for taste testing that was depleted by the end of the day. There were spatters of tomatoes on the counter and even on the floor. It was a days worth of work and my mom made a couple batches each summer. She would stock the storage room shelves for the winter and despite filling those shelves, every summer they would be near empty. I married and I too had a garden and filled my shelves with salsa. Clearly, we go through a lot of salsa!

Our salsa shelf has been empty for sometime. My last batch of salsa was just shortly before our move to Arizona. It was the last time we had the benefit of a plentiful garden. I received a message last week from my friend in Milwaukee and she let me know she had just finished a batch of my mom's salsa. Immediately I started craving that salsa. More than anything I wanted a bowl with a bag of chips.

Although we currently don't have a garden - I decided I would break down and purchase tomatoes for the salsa. (Something I never thought I would do, nor is it something my mom does!) The next day I was at the market, and wouldn't you know it, the tomatoes I needed were 3lbs for a dollar. It was a salsa miracle!! Two days later I had 20 pints of salsa on my counter ready to fill my shelves. Thank you Linda for the kickstart!

20 lbs Tomatoes (I always use roma)
4 lbs onions (I do a 1/2 yellow, 1/2 white)
12 tsp salt (1/3 cup)
4 cup Apple cider vinegar
12 jalapeno peppers (this is to taste, I often put in more depending on the hotness level desired and the hotness of your peppers)
8 cloves of garlic (The minced garlic in a jar from the grocery store works great)
3 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp sugar
2 or 3 cans tomato paste (12 oz)

Blanch your tomatoes to remove all skins. Boil a large pot of water and put some tomatoes in the p0t, wait up to 30 seconds and then remove them with a ladle and immediately put them in cold water in your sink. Do this for all 20lbs. You'll have to add more cold water halfway through. Use a paring knife to remove the skins and remove the stem area.

Blend all your ingredients except the tomato paste and spices. I typically put a little of each ingredient in the food processor/blender multiple times. Put it in a large stock pot, add spices and let it cook for an hour or so, it'll change from a light red to a dark red. I continue to cook the salsa until it's the consistency I like. I prefer a thicker salsa, so I let a lot of the water cook out. Add the tomato paste and let it cook just a bit longer.

When it tastes the way you like and it's the consistency you like, you're ready to can it. You can use a stock pot or a traditional canner (black with white speckles). Fill as many jars as you can fit in your pot, make sure your jars are warm, since you'll be adding warm salsa. Fill with salsa and clean off the top of the jar so you get a good seal. Add a lid and ring to the jar and place it in the pot of boiling water. After all jars are added, make sure there's an inch of water over all the jars. Let it boil for 25 minutes. Remove jars and cool. Remove rings after jars sit for 24 hours. Make sure the lid has a good seal by pressing down and making sure it doesn't pop back up. Grab yourself a bag of chips and enjoy a batch of salsa!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Meal Planning...

Everyone has their own system as far as meal planning goes. And some don't have a system at all and it works flawlessly for them. I, however, am a systems person and over the years have done many things to try and make dinner run smoothly. Over time I learned some things really worked well and others did not. For example: I could eat the same seven meals every week of the year. This would eliminate any meal planning and streamline my food storage needs. My husband would die at the thought of eating the same seven meals, he needs variety!

So, to meet his need for a variety of foods, but my need to know in advance what we're eating I came up with this system.

I chose six categories of food that our family enjoys. Within these categories I listed meal examples. (Anytime I come across a new recipe that looks enticing I place it in its respected category, or it gets thrown into All-American!)

Once a week I sit down with my weekly calendar and I write in what day we will be eating what category. After looking through the grocery ads I get a better of idea of what is on sale and what meal within the category we will be eating.

I do my grocery shopping based on this plan.

During the week it is nice knowing what we are eating on any given day, but with complete flexibility. Sometimes, my husband is craving a certain category and I easily swap category days. I know to cook meals that offer the most leftovers on Monday or Tuesday so Steve has lunch options throughout the week.

There is one day that is the same category every week. Friday is pizza night. We make pizza. We buy pizza and cook it our house. We buy take out pizza. Depends on the week, but never failing, we eat Pizza on Fridays.

It's a pretty easy system that is impossible to screw up. It's so easy I was talking to Steve about it and he had no idea this system has been in place for over a year, he just knows he's enjoyed a year full of variety! He even made me walk through our meals last week to see if we truly follow it, and we did. And if we walked through the week before that and even the week before that it would reinforce my argument.

Come up with your own categories and start planning!

Download the meal plan:
Download Blank Meal Plan
Download Meal Plan
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