Thursday, September 30, 2010

Recipe: Ande's Mint Cookies

If you like Girl Scout Thin Mints, you will love this cookie.  Most of my people like mint, so these were a big hit.  Even better, this is a one pot cookie.  Yippee! 

In my effort to revamp my family's diet, I replaced 1/4 cup of the butter with white bean puree. I know it isn't a lot but I am starting with small changes so I don't "freak" my family out.  And you know what? Nobody noticed. Maybe they didn't notice because it was just a small replacement, but I feel better knowing that just maybe I can tweak some of our favorite recipes so that they are just a bit healthier. So, the next time I make these, I will replace half of the butter with white bean puree and see how that turns out.


Ande's Mint Cookies

(adapted from Favorite Family Recipes)

3/4 cup butter (I did 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup white bean puree)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 pkg milk chocolate chips

Heat ingredients in a large pot until chocolate chips are melted.  Then add:

2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Stir until combined. Shape into rounded tablespoons (I used my ice scream scoop) and place on a cookie sheet. Lightly press each ball to flatten. Bake at 350 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes. After removing from the stove, while still hot, place an Ande's Mint on the top of each cookie.  Once they have melted, smooth evenly over the top.  Cool on wire rack.


For another healthy cookie, see my recipe

"It's not whether you get knocked down,
it's whether you get up."

Vince Lombardi

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Life is not measured by the number of
breaths we take, but by the moments
that take our breath away."

Author Unknown

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Recipe Review: Vanilla Dutch Baby

Do you watch Melissa d'Arabian's Ten Dollar Dinners on the Food Network?   I try to watch it when I can and I have tried a couple of her recipes that have turned out pretty well.  She recently featured a breakfast for dinner.  I LOVE breakfast at dinner and so do my kids.  However, I thought I would try this recipe for her Vanilla Dutch Baby out and see if my girls would like it.  Two out of three of my girls love pancakes.  The twins would eat pancakes for all three meals every day.  For their birthday, we took them to Cracker Barrel so they could have pancakes.  Right now CB is the favorite pancake place.  I have to admit, the pancakes are very good at CB.

I was very surprised at how good this Dutch Baby was.  We have never tried anything like this before.  Not only was it tasty but it was easy to make.  As much as I like pancakes, I do get tired of standing over the stove making pancake after pancake.  This was a nice treat to only have to mix, pour and cook.  In about 25 minutes, we had a fantastic breakfast.  Of course, my oldest daughter Hailey, liked it but wasn't completely sold on it.  She said it had too much of an egg taste.  Go figure!  The rest of us enjoyed ours sprinkled with powdered sugar. 


Vanilla Dutch Baby (Puffed Pancake)
(from Melissa d'Arabian @ Ten Dollar Dinners)

3 tablespoons butter
3 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk, heated 20 to 30 seconds in the microwave
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a large saute pan with cooking spray and place the butter in the pan and place in the oven to melt.   Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the eggs, flour, hot milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and pinch of salt, and blend on medium-high speed until uniform.   Carefully, remove the hot pan from the oven. The butter should be melted. Swirl the butter around the pan to coat completely, and then pour the remaining butter into the batter and whisk to blend. Pour the batter into the hot pan and return the pan to the oven. Cook the pancake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pancake is puffed in the center, and golden brown along the edges.

Using a spatula, remove the entire Dutch baby from the pan and place on a cooling rack for a few minutes to allow the steam to escape without condensing along the bottom and rendering the pancake soggy. Slice the pancake into wedges on a serving platter or cutting board and sprinkle with the confectioners' sugar through a sieve.

Linked To:
  * Big Bear's Wife: This Week's Craving

"Dost thou love life?
Then do not squander time,
for that is the stuff life is made of."

Benjamin Franklin

Monday, September 27, 2010

"If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you."

Muhammed Ali

Sunday, September 26, 2010

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost."

Dalai Lama

Friday, September 24, 2010

Seasonal Decorating: Autumn is finally here!

Although it is still hot in Texas it has cooled down a bit and the days of 100+ degrees seem to be behind us and with Fall officially here I start thinking about decorating for autumn.  I love the colors and the smells.  The crisp air and the crunch of leaves under my feet. 

Grab a cup of hot apple cider and a pumpkin muffin and let's get some inspiration together!

Photo courtesy of Country Living


Photos Courtesy of Country Living


Photos Courtesy of Country Living


Photo Courtesy of Country Home



Recipe: Buttermilk Cookies

On Wednesday's after I drop the girls off at church, I go see my grandmother.  I like to take her some treats for her to enjoy.  She is my test taster when I try something new.  But to be honest, she loves everything that I bring her.  I sometimes think I could bring her chocolate covered grasshoppers and boiled cow tongue and she would still tell me everything tastes! 

This recipe is adapted from a couple of different recipes that I was researching.  I love to bake with buttermilk because you get such a unique flavor.  The end result is a cookie that is very similar to the ones that are topped with that big blob of super sweet icing.  Let's be honest, you know you have bought them before....I do!  I just bought them recently because they were fall inspired with orange icing and fall sprinkles and I gave into my girls because they were going "to die" if they did not get them.

However, now that I have a very close recipe that matches it, I will now be baking them...ok...maybe every now and again I can still be "talked" into getting them.  I decided to forgo the big blob of icing and did a simple glaze instead.  Maybe the next batch I will give it a try.

My grandmother's verdict was that she loved them....see what I mean?


Buttermilk Cookies

3 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment or silpat.  Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together.  Set aside.  Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla.  Mix in flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, ending with the buttermilk.  Chill dough for at least 30 minutes.  Drop dough by tablespoon full.  Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until edges and bottoms are very light golden.  Cool on sheets for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.

For glaze, whisk all ingredients until smooth and glaze on cooled cookies.  I did a couple of layers of glaze, drying between layers.

Linked to:
  * Designs by Gollum:  Foodie Friday
  * Mommy's Kitchen, Potluck Sunday

"Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time. Then your time on earth will be filled with glory."

Betty Smith

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Recipe Review: Crock Pot Baked Oatmeal

In my quest to find more interesting and healthy breakfast items, I came across this recipe on A Year of Slow Cooking.  I so heart is one of my favorite comfort meals.  When I don't feel good, my mom still makes me oatmeal and it always seems to make me feel better.  That just goes to show you that no matter how old you get, you still need your mommy.  (If you are reading this you!)

My oldest daughter helped me put this together because it is so easy and quick.  I have to say it smelled divine while it was cooking.  I have not had baked oatmeal before and I was very surprised.  It was very good and had the texture of a cake or brownie.  I did not add dried fruit so it was not very sweet.  Next time I make this I will add some fruit.  My daughter loved it as well and I put one in her lunch box.


Baked Oatmeal
(from One Year of Slow Cooking)

3 cups rolled (not instant) oats

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup dried fruit

Add all dry ingredients into the crock pot.  Stir well.  Add melted butter, eggs and milk stirring to incorporate.

Cover and cook on low for 3-5 hours, checking every so often. This is done when the edges are brown and are beginning to crust, and the center is set. An inserted knife should come out clean.

Allow it to cool in the crock pot for at least an hour before cutting. The longer you let it sit, the more set and brownie-like the pieces will be.

"When you see a man of worth, think of how you may emulate him. When you see one who is unworthy, examine yourself."


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Recipe: Oh So Tasty Bean Salad

Sometimes I think my girls only love me because I make this bean salad for them.  I am not exaggerating when I say that they LOVE this salad.  They have been eating this since they were toddlers.  And that is how their love of feta cheese came about.  While I am making this dish, my girls like to "taste test" it to make sure it is good.  By the time the taste testing is over, there is not a lot left. 

I decided to surprise the girls and make this for the lunch.  This will be the first time that they have had it in their lunch so I know they will be excited.  When I make this for dinner, I add herbed cream cheese stuffed pitas that are grilled...another of their favorites. 

I hope you enjoy this as much as our family does.

Oh So Tasty Bean Salad

2 cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 cucumbers, seeded and diced
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup to 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 small can chopped olives (optional)
1/4 to 1/2 cup Italian dressing
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

Combine garbanzo beans, cucumbers, red onion and tomatoes in large bowl.  Mix in feta cheese and olives.  In a small bowl, mix dressing, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Pour over bean mixture and toss gently. 

This is best served when chilled and taste even better the next day once the flavors have melded.

Linked To:

"Be the change that you want to see in the world."


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Recipe: Crock Pot Grits

First, let me apologize for my horrible pictures.  At 5:30 in the morning my brain and camera are not yet working.  Add to that three little girls who don't care about my need to document, they just want their cheesy grits.  So, again, sorry for the un-fab pics.

My girls LOVE grits.  I know, crazy right?  They also love eating blue cheese and feta out of the container, but that is another post.  I grew up eating grits and my mother continued the tradition with my girls.  I make them on occasion when I have time.  I don't make instant grits...they are just horrible.  But, I don't always have time in the mornings to make them  before I send them off to school.  And, unfortunately, I am not as dedicated as my mother.  She will get up earlier than us to make them.  I know, she is perfect...right?  Anyway, I decided to give them a try in the crock pot so we could wake up to a hot and mighty tasty breakfast and I could almost be as perfect as my mother. 

There is a different texture between the crock pot grits and stove top grits.  The grits that I made in the crock pot have a more creamy texture.  Stove top grits have a grainier texture.  Either way is good in my opinion.  We put cheese in ours to make them even better.  I also like them with lots of butter and salt. 

The crock pot grits cooked for about 6 hours and was just about the right consistency.

I will be adding this to our breakfast rotation as this beats cold cereal any day!  Enjoy!

Crock Pot Grits

1 cup grits
5 cups water
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 tsp salt

Spray crock pot with nonstick cooking spray.  Add all ingredients.  Stir until combined.  About an hour into the cooking process, give the grits a stir to incorporate the butter throughout.  Once they are done, give them another big stir and serve.
"At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent."

Barbara Bush

Monday, September 20, 2010

Recipe Review: French Bread

I am always looking for a good bread recipe.  I love french bread and have yet to find the perfect one.  Well, my search is over....this is THE one!  It has the perfect crust and soft goodness on the inside.  Not only is this an easy recipe, but the ingredients are things that I always have on hand.  The original recipe did not make use of the bread machine, but I used mine to make it even more simple. 

You won't be disappointed as you are eating this awesome bread with your family at your next meal.

French Bread
(adapted from Deals to Meals)
(this amount makes 3 small loaves or 2 large):

2 1/2 c. warm water
2 T. yeast
3 T. sugar
2 T. white vinegar

Add these ingredients together in the pan of your bread machine.  Let sit until bubbly.

1 T. salt
1/3 c. oil
6 to 7 cups flour (or a little more if it's too soft)

Turn machine on to bread cycle.  I let my dough cycle all the way up until it got ready for the first rising.  I started out with 6 cups of flour but the dough was still a bit sticky so I added about another cup until the dough was more stiff.  Once the machine finished the kneading and before the first rise, I stopped the machine and dumped the dough into an oiled bowl and then put in the oven with a small pot of boiling water. The water will keep the dough moist. Watch the dough and punch it down when it gets to the top of the mixing bowl. Do this every time it gets to the top of the bowl, as long as you have time to babysit it (2-5 times). Put the dough on a greased counter top and divide into 3 sections. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and sprinkle a thin layer of cornmeal on the bottom of the sheet. Roll the dough balls into rectangle/long French bread shapes. Slash tops of bread diagonally 3-5 times and cover with a beaten egg. Let rise 30 minutes (or until doubled) on the counter, or you can put them in your oven at 170 and wait until they are the size you want to cook them at. Once they are to the right size, turn up your stove to 375 (without opening the door!) and let them bake until done. Or, just raise on the counter and bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

Author Unknown


Sunday, September 19, 2010

I will cause you to walk in the straight way...
I will open to you the gates of righteousness..
For whoever finds Me, finds life

- Psalm 118:19; Proverbs. 8: 35-6

Recipe Review: Old Timey Butter Rolls

OMG!  These rolls are a slice of heaven. 

I wanted to take a treat to my grandmother and while I was looking around on Christy Jordan's Southern Plate, I came across this recipe.  I thought it would be something that my grandmother would enjoy and it looked very good to me.  These were so easy to make and yummy delicious!  They reminded me of my mother's cream puffs in a biscuit form.  The sauce is like a custard that is rich and yummy.  This would be the perfect ending to a comfort meal.


Old Timey Butter Rolls
(recipe from Christy Jordan's Southern Plate)

2 cups self rising flour (I used AP with 3 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp salt)
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup milk (I needed an additional 2 tbsps)
1 stick butter or margarine
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

2 cups milk (I used 2%)
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla (I used 2)

Cut shortening into flour really well with a fork.  Stir in milk.  On a floured surface, dump out dough and press together with your hands to form a ball.  Roll out into a rectangle (about 7 x 10" size).  Spread softened butter over dough and then sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over top.  Roll it up like a jelly roll and press it together lightly.  Cut into nine slices (I ended up with eight) about one inch thick each.  Place into a lightly greased 8 x 8 baking dish.

In a medium sauce pot, combine all milk sauce ingredients.  Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to bubble lightly.  Pour over rolls in pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or until rolls are lightly browned on top.  Allow to sit for a few minutes once it is done for the rolls to soak up more sauce.  After you put each roll on a plate, spoon more sauce over top.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Leftover Redo: Chicken with Four Pepper Sauce = Southwest Chicken and Rice Soup

Don't you just love a good meal?  And doesn't it taste so much better when you have stretched one meal into two and saved money?  LOVE it!

I had some leftover white rice and Chicken with Four Pepper Sauce that I made the other day.  I could have froze the meal and pulled it out for another day, but I decided I wanted to use it instead.  My oldest daughter is a HUGE soup lover so I thought it would be a nice treat for her, so I made my leftovers into a soup.  It is still in the upper 90's here in Central Texas...not exactly soup weather, but I love my baby.

I am not sure how much chicken and sauce I had leftover, so my recipe isn't exact.  You could use it as guideline and make yours to your family's liking and with ingredients you already have.  You could easily add corn or black beans...whatever you have.  Or instead of the diced tomatoes maybe some salsa instead.  This is one of those recipes that you really can't mess up.  Enjoy!

Southwest Chicken and Rice Soup

Leftover Chicken with Four Pepper Sauce
Leftover white rice
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup water (add as much or as little as you like for your liking)
2 tsp chicken base
1 tbsp taco seasoning
1 tsp cayenne pepper

Add all ingredients back into the crock pot.  Cook on low for 2 - 4.  Serve with a dallop of sour cream and some shredded cheddar cheese.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Easy and Healthy Meal Ideas

There are days that I struggle with what to feed my family especially now that we are back in school.  In a perfect world, I feed my family a completely different breakfast every day of the week and they don't eat the heavily preserved snack food either....well...that IS a perfect world!

It is my goal this year to really start feeding my family the healthiest, less chemically foods that I can.  I would love to be able to feed them all organic, all homemade foods.  Unfortunately my budget doesn't always allow me to afford all organics and sometimes time isn't on my side.  So, for now, I am going to be taking baby steps.  Instead of a commercial granola bar, perhaps I can make homemade granola.  My oldest daugther loves yogurt and I have been researching how to make homemade yogurt, so maybe I will give that a try.  My girls are taking their lunches this year, so I have control over what goes in their bodies.  While I love cream gravy (after all we live in the south and my daughters would drink it for breakfast, lunch and dinner if they could) I don't agree that it should be served with every other meal in the school cafeteria.

So, with that said, here are some recipes that I am going to try over the next few months.  I will be posting reviews on each one of them as I make them. 

I hope that you find some inspiration in some of these as well.

Tortilla Cups with Yogurt and Fresh Fruit
Puffed Pancake
Orange Cranberry Muffins
English Muffins
Baked Oatmeal

Mini Deep Dish Pizzas (I am going to make my own dough with some whole wheat flour)
Meatless Chicken Fried Chicken (with a cream gravy!)
Slow Cooker Orange Chicken (like Panda Express)
Crock pot Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

Homemade Yogurt
Pumpkin Pudding (my daugther Abby loves pumpkin pie so I think she will l love this too!)
Crock pot Granola
Pumpkin Pie Dip
Crock pot Applesauce
Candied Walnuts

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Recipe Review: Streusel Topped Pumpkin Spice Muffins

I don't about you, but there are mornings when I struggle with the girls over breakfast.  I don't want them to aways have cold cereal and I don't always have time to make eggs or cheesy grits (a favorite at this house!).  I have been doing some research on the web and going through cookbooks looking for some delicious breakfast alternatives.  I love Christy Jordan's Southern Plate website and found a couple of recipes that fit the bill. 

We love pumpkin in our house.  I have a make-from-scratch pumpkin muffin recipe on my blog that we love but these muffins are perfect for busy mornings.  They are super easy, very tasty and soooo moist!  They will definitely be in the breakfast rotation. I made 12 regular muffins and 12 mini-muffins.

Streusel Topped Pumpkin Spice Muffins
(original recipe from Southern Plate)


1 box Spice Cake mix
1 can pumpkin
1/2 cup water

1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 stick butter or margarine
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease muffin tins or line with cupcake liners.  In mixing bowl, place all ingredients.  Mix until well blended.  Scoop into muffin tins.  To make topping, stir together flour and brown sugar, breaking up any lumps.  Cut in margarine or butter.  Spoon or sprinkle on top of muffins, pat down slightly.  Bake muffins for 20 to 24 minutes.

Leftover topping can be refrigerated for several weeks or frozen for several months.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Recipe: Chicken with Four Pepper Sauce

It has been ages since I last posted, but now that we are back to school and our routine is worked out, I have more time to blog.  I am also looking for quick meals now that our evenings are crazy with homework and activities. 

This chicken dish was an experiment that actually came out pretty tasty, best of all it is a slow cooker meal!    I served this over rice but I am sure it would be awesome with some buttered egg noodles.  I also served refried beans and tortillas and some of us made burritos.  It is not very spicy but it has a nice warm flavor.  The pepper and onion blend that I used contained red, green and yellow bell peppers.  I also used mild green chiles.

I think I will do more playing with it because I can totally see it as the base of a soup as well.  My daugthers loved it and asked for seconds.  I had leftovers in a warmed tortilla the next day and it was dee-lightful!


Chicken with Four Pepper Sauce

3 to 4 chicken breasts (mine were frozen)
1 12 oz bag of 3 Pepper & Onion Blend (mine was frozen)
1 4 oz can diced green chiles
1/2 cup sour cream

Spray a crock pot liner with cooking spray.  Add chicken.  Pour pepper and onion blend over chicken.  Add can of diced green chiles.  Cover and cook on low 4 to 6 hours or until the chicken is tender.  Remove chicken from pot.  Use an *immersion blender to blend the peppers and onions until smooth.  Add sour cream and stir until blended.  Cube chicken and put back in the crock pot.  Cook another 30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.  Serve over rice or noodles.

*You could also use a standard blender.

See my leftover redo post to find out how I made soup from the leftovers!

Linked to:
 * And Baby Makes Five - Colleen's Kitchen Recipe Swap
 * Designs by Gollum - Foody Friday
 * Mommy's Kitchen - Potluck Sunday
 * Mom's Crazy Cooking - This Week's Cravings