Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Black Friday Shopping Tips

I love Black Friday, I am no sure why, I just do. There is just something electric in the air. The beginning of everything Christmas, the excitement of a killer deal, gets me excited just thinking about it. Don't get me wrong though there are some things I don't love about Black Friday too. By the end of the morning I feel so over stimulated that I can barely function. So many people, usually women, means way too much estrogen. Some women take this shopping day way too seriously and if you get in their way, watch out sister, she'll take you out.

So if you have weighed the pros and cons of Black Friday and decided that you are going to brave the insanity, don't go ill prepared. This crazy shopping day can go from bad to worse very quickly, so be prepared. Here are some of my tried and true tips to make it out of the Black Friday rush alive, only a little battered, and most importantly a trunk full of Christmas goodies!

1. Dress in layers- It usually starts out pretty cold early in the morning, but as the hours progress you will get warmer, especially driving a cart like a race car driver. You will want to be able to easily remove layers as you go, for optimal comfort. If you are going to a super crazy store like Wal-Mart(which I have never have and never will enter on Black Friday), try to leave your coat in the car. With so many people the last thing you want to worry about is carrying your coat around.

2. Wear comfy shoes- You would think that this would be obvious, but it is not. This is definitely a time to put comfort over fashion. I have seen women hobbling around a store and feel so sorry for her knowing that she has a morning of pain and suffering ahead of her.

3. Bring a list & the add- Organization is key in a successful shop. You don't want to wander around the store going through the same aisle 5 times getting things you forgot you wanted. For each individual store have a list of exactly what you want to purchase, including sizes that you need. For that store bring along the add. You want to have the add in case you need to double check a price or see exactly it was that you wanted. Mark the item that you want boldly with a sharpie and or highlighter, so you can find it easily filling through the add.

4. Bring a Buddie- If at all possible bring a friend of family member with you. Good company always seems to lighten the stress. It is also great to have an extra shopping team mate with you. You can break up the shopping list and divide and concur the store. It is also a great way to speed through the line. One person stands in the inevitably long line, while the other person finishes the shopping. With 2 people there is no need wait until you are completely done shopping if there are long lines.

5. Bring snacks- Shopping takes a lot of energy! Come prepared for the morning dip in blood sugar with snacks. You will regret it if you don't when your tummy starts to growl and all you have is a credit card. I love to go to Fred Meyer because they provide the snacks. They always has hot chocolate, cider, doughnuts and fruit.

6. Listen to Christmas music- Nothing makes me feel Holly and Jolly like Christmas music. Enjoy the spirit of the season by cranking up the tunes. If you dare you can even sing along. Sing- a-longs always lighten the mood, right?

Well I hope that your Black Friday shopping experience is a success and you come home happy and satisfied with your amazing bargains!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Creamy Chicken Potato Soup

Hello- I am glad to get back into the swing of crafting and cooking.

As part of the new and more organized meal planning that I am doing, I am adding more soups to my cooking rotation. I guess it is technically still fall, but it feels like winter, and that cool winter air makes me long for a pot of soup simmering on the stove.

This recipe originally came from The Sisters' Cafe Blog, but I made a few changes to make the recipe my own. This recipe was very easy, just a lot of chopping and simmering. My husband loved it, and said that it ranked right up with the other soups that I make.

Creamy Chicken Potato Soup

lb chicken (breasts or combination)
1 onion, diced
6 slices of bacon
2 handfuls baby carrots (about 2 cups sliced small)
4-5 potatoes, diced small
1 c milk
1/4 c flour
8 oz package cream cheese

1. Put chicken in pot and cover with water; boil until cooked. Take chicken out of water but keep the broth. When chicken is cool, shred.
2. Fry bacon in the pot you will be using for the soup. Fry bacon until crispy. Remove bacon and saute' onions in bacon drippings. Add carrots and potatoes. Add 3-4 cups of broth or enough to cover vegetables. Add bouillon cubes or soup base for flavor (I add 4 bouillon cubes). Bring to a boil and simmer until veggies are tender.
3. Mix flour with milk and add to soup. Add chicken and cream cheese into the soup mixture. Slightly soften cream cheese in microwave, then add to soup in little pieces.Simmer until melted and well combined. Add in crumbled bacon. Season with salt and pepper.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bajio Chicken Chile Salad

I am sure that you thought that I had fallen off the face of the earth, nope I've just been sick. The only thing I think that is worse than being sick, is being pregnant and sick. It seems that as soon as I start thinking I'm better, the next day I am feeling horrible again. So feeling better or worse I was determined to get something posted this week.

This recipe comes from a site that I love. Leigh Ann at Your Homebased Mom is amazing! She has yummy recipes that I love and tons of fun decorating and holiday ideas.

There are 2 reasons that I wanted to try this recipe. First, I have heard great things about the Chicken Chile Salad from Bajios. Sadly I have never had it, but my friend and favorite neighbor from Rexburg loves it. The second reason, it is a crock-pot recipe. With our baby coming soon and the weather cooling off, nothing seems easier and nicer than dinner making its self on the counter. This recipe was so easy that I actually gave it to my husband and he put it together while I finished getting ready for church.

This Chicken Chile was so wonderful. Having never tried the real Chicken Chile I have nothing to compare it to, but Leigh Ann says it's right on with the real thing. And as far as I am concerned, even if it doesn't taste like the original, it tastes so good, why would it matter? Leigh Ann used the chicken as a topping on a salad, like at the restaurant. I found that my lettuce was looking a little sad, so we made burritos for dinner and quesadillas the next day with the leftovers. I am pretty convinced that you could put it on just about anything and it would be great.

So without further ado, here is the recipe. Try it out, and let me know what you think.

This is out burrito. Sorry it's not as beautiful as Leigh Ann's picture.

Bajio Chicken Chile Salad

5 chicken breasts (I only used 4 large ones)

1/2 cup salsa

1 Tbsp cumin

1/2 cup brown sugar (more to taste)

1 4 oz. can diced green chilies

6 oz. Sprite (1/2 can)

Combine all ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Remove chicken and shred. Return to crock pot and cook 1 more hour. Thicken the juices with a little cornstarch mixed in water.

Serve with flour tortillas, lettuce, cheese, black beans and any other taco fixings.

If you want it spicier rather than sweeter add a hotter salsa and more green chilies.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thankful Banner

This beautiful banner is perfect for fall time. The "Thankful" letters are textured and raised. Banner comes fully assembled and ready to hang. Banner is $25.00, plus $5.00 shipping

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fabulous Find- Stephen's Candycane Cocoa

Hot chocolate is one of my favorite things, not matter what time of year. I always enjoy grabbing a mug filled with yummy warm hot chocolate. Last week I found something wonderful that satisfied my need for hot chocolate beyond expectations.

Stephen's is one of the best hot chocolate makers as far as I am concerned, and this could possibly be there best cocoa. Candycane Cocoa is so yummy, and yes it actually has candycane's in it! Who ever came up with that should get a big raise. When I was younger Santa would always put packets of specialty hot chocolate in our stocks, and my favorite was always mint chocolate. I am not sure what it is, but I think that mint and chocolate go together better than peanut butter and jelly.

Last night my husband and I flipped on the fireplace and enjoyed some amazing Candycane Cocoa. With a dollop of homemade whipped cream, nothing could be better.

Find some Stephen's Candy cane Cocoa and give it a try. You will be hooked, I promise! If you can't find it at your local store, check out there website-

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cookie Monster

Me want cookies! I really love these cookies. This is one of the things that I miss most about Rexburg. One of our favorite places to eat was Craigo's. Craigo's specialty is pizza, which they do amazingly well, but there desserts are out of this world. I am sure that most dates that share a Cookie Monster end in eternal bliss. Well maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but it is almost that good.

The Cookie Monster is simple, yet profound. It is a giant cookie topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, caramel and hot fudge. We had a craving for some Cookie Monsters, so we invited some friends over that also went to BYU-Idaho.

I was able to find the perfect dish for our Monsters at Michael's. They are ceramic pie dishes that are about 9 inches across. One dish was the perfect portion for 2 people. I whipped up some of my Mom's wonderful chocolate chip cookie dough, recipe to come another time, and patted it down in the bottom of the pan.

The "giant cookie" baked for about 15 minutes, until it was just browned on the edges and cooked in the middle.

After the cookie came out of the oven I let it set for about 10 minutes. It is really important to let the cookie cool enough so your ice cream doesn't melt, but at the same time you want the cookie to be warm when you eat it. I was a little excited and added the ice cream too soon and it melted a little too much.

Top your cookie and ice cream with whipped cream and chocolate and caramel. Sorry there is no chocolate or caramel in the picture. I was too excited to start eating that I didn't bother taking a picture, so you will just have to imagine it there.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Molasses Gingersnaps

It is another cold, rainy day here in Seattle. I am ready to start hibernating. To warm things up a little bit I decided to make a batch of some of my favorite cookies.

I got this recipe from Family Fun magazine, and it has been a winner. I was searching for a good combination of a molasses cookie and a gingersnap, something smooth from the molasses and spicy from the ginger, and this is it. It is soft and chewy, yet crunchy on the edges. Aside from the great cookies, now my house smells like warm gingerbread. YUM

The woman who submitted this recipe told a the great story about how she got the recipe. It was her Great Aunt Erma's, and they would always make them together. Her Aunt Erma passed away several years ago, but when she pulls out the recipe card and looks at the recipe, lovingly written by Aunt Erma, she feels like she is right back in her kitchen. I love how cooking brings people together and creates such amazing memories.

Molasses Gingersnaps
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 large egg
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup sugar(for rolling cookies in)

1. Cream shortening, brown sugar, molasses and egg
2. Blend together dry ingredients
3. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, blending after each addition, until the dough is evenly mixed
4. Heat oven to 375
5.Roll scoops of dough in sugar, place on lightly greased cookie sheet
6. Give a slight pat with the spatula to flatten slightly
7. Bake 8-9 minutes.
8. Cool on baking sheet for 1 minute before transferring to cooling rack.

Makes about 2- 2 1/2 dozen cookies

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Amazing Apples

I have found a new love this fall. I am in love with Honeycrisp apples. I had never heard of these before we moved to Seattle, and now I can't believe that I have lived without them. Aside from the fact that these apples are beautiful, they are super tasty. These apples are sweet, but not too sweet and have a great crisp texture. They are a little more expensive then your regular run of the mill apples, but I just keep an eye out for a sale. If you have seen these and never tried them, give them a chance, you won't regret it!