Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years Resolutions

Happy New Years Eve! I love the beginning of a new year, there is something so refreshing about a fresh start. I know that you can make resolutions and changes anytime of the year, but what better time then the beginning of a whole new year? I have never been very good at remembering or following through with my resolutions, and I am probably not the only one. This year I am trying to be easy on myself where my resolutions are concerned. I am having a baby in the next few weeks, so it is probably a good idea. This year I am trying to enhance my life by being more consistent with the things that I should do and enjoy doing. To help track my progress I am making a chart to go on the refrigerator. It has a striking resemblance to a chore chart, but really who likes chores, and these are things that I enjoy doing and make my life better. I find it easier to see exactly what I want to do, and have a way of tracking if I have accomplished it on a day to day basis. Just remember that if you slip up and fall of the resolution horse, tomorrow is a new day.

Feel free to print out my resolution chart and fill in your own goals on the left side.

One of my resolutions is to be better about keeping up my blog. The last few weeks have been crazy and I have fallen into a blogging blah. We got snow, and were house bound for a week or so, then Christmas and now New Years. But I love that this blog is a place for me to share the things that I love. So keep coming back, I promise to keep sharing the things that make my life extra special, and a little bit heavenly.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Cup of Christmas Tea

This is my all time favorite Christmas story, and one of my favorite stories ever! My Mom first read this in a magazine years ago. She ripped it out and we kept it. We were so excited when we found a book of this story on QVC. Sometimes QVC has amazing finds!

This is a great Christmas tradition in our family. My Mom and I always sit in front of the Christmas tree and read this story on Christmas Eve. We have read it so many times that I have it memorized. When ever I think of it, it evokes warm feelings of the true spirit of Christmas.

The story shares the experience of a man who receives a letter from his Great Aunt asking him to come visit and share some a cup of Christmas tea with her. He is reluctant to take time out of his schedule to spend time reminiscing with an old relative. When he finally gives in to visit her, he rediscovers the true meaning of Christmas that he has been missing in his life.

This a an amazing Christmas story. If you are looking for a great tradition to start with your family, this is it!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Somethings don't turn out the way you plan!

Have you ever made something knowing that it was going to great, followed the directions to a T and when you get the final product, DISASTER! I had one of those experiences this week and unfortunately it killed my confidence for the week. I don't have very many of scary cooking experiences, so when they happen I am always taken by surprise.

We have an "Iron Chef" type party with our neighbors every month. This month our secret ingredient was mint. I was so excited because I was going to make Candy Cane Pie. My mom had made this a few time years ago, and it was super yummy. I whipped it up late in the afternoon before the party, that is when disaster struck. Things just didn't seem to be going good from the start, but I kept pressing forward, hoping it would all come together in the end. Well, it didn't come together and by I got to the end I knew it was not going to work. I scooped my pie filling into the crust, set it aside to cool, and started to cry. Still now I don't know what happened. My fluffy yummy filling was more the consistency of snot, sorry there is no other way to describe it. There is no fixing or covering up something that bad.

My poor husband had to come home to my broken heart and disgusting pie. Soon enough he get me smiling again and he remedied the situation by whipping up some brownies and tossing in Andes mint's chips into it. Thanks Sweetie! Have you ever had a horrible cooking disaster? Did you know where you went wrong, or was it a complete surprise? Let me know. It is good to know that these things happen to the best of us.
The is my my beautiful "snot pie" in all it's glory!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Crock-pot Southwest Black Bean Chicken

Good Monday morning!

We had a very busy weekend and now I am ready to tackle another busy week full of Christmas activities and baby preparations. As things are getting busier and closer to the arrival of our little man I am searching for more ways to save time. One of the best ways I have found to free up time is to let the crock-pot do the cooking for me. I love the idea of tossing the food in and letting it cook all day, and not having to worry about it.

This is one of our favorite crock-pot recipes. We have tried several variations of this recipes, some involving cream cheese, some involving shredding the chicken and other things. After trying them all this is our favorite, it is the right combination of everything. It is so delicious and so easy, and we are always so excited about how yummy it is.

Picture courtesy of The Sister's cafe

Crock-pot Southwest Black Bean Chicken

1 small bag frozen corn or 1 can of corn
1 can black beans
2 large frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cups of salsa-if you want spicier, add a hotter salsa
shredded cheddar cheese
tortilla chips
sour cream
chopped cilantro
diced avocado
diced tomatoes

If you are using frozen corn place it on the bottom of the crock-pot, then place chicken on top. If you are using canned corn place the chicken on the bottom of the crock-pot, and then the corn on top of the chicken. Then add drained black beans and salsa. Cook on high for 1 hour, and then on low for 4 hours. Shred chicken with forks, mix back in with black bean mixture. Serve with tortilla chips and add toppings to individual servings. Eating with tortilla chips really gives it the best taste, it is the salt and the crunch.

We have a small crock-pot, so we down size the recipe for our needs. It is not an exact science, so we do several small chicken pieces that fit in the crock-pot and the regular amount of corn, black beans and salsa. The little crock-pots only have an on/off setting, usually about 4 hours is the perfect amount of time to cook.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fabulous Find- Peppermint Ice Cream

One of my favorite parts about any holiday is the food associated with it. One of my favorite Christmas time foods is Peppermint Ice Cream. Creamy ice cream and crushed candy cane pieces are the perfect combination. This ice cream is great paired with brownies, sundaes or right out of the carton. I always get so excited when I see this holiday favorite waiting in the frozen food aisle. It is so yummy. Give it a try, I know you will love it!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cream Cheese Stuffed Cinna-Bun Pull-Aparts

I made these months ago, and never posted the recipe. These are so yummy. I brought them to ladies get together, and everyone raved about them. Everything about these are perfect. I placed a piece of aluminum foil under the pan to catch any drips, but be sure not to use a cookie sheet. Also, make sure you cover the top as instructed. Mine took closer to 45 minutes to cook so keep an eye on them. Invite people over to help eat these, they are so addicting that you might want to eat them all.

Cream Cheese Stuffed Cinna-Bun Pull-Aparts

20 Rhodes Bake and Serve Rolls, thawed
1 lb. light brown sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter
4 Tbsp. cinnamon sugar
8 oz. cream cheese (at room temperature)

In a bowl, combine cream cheese with ¼ cup brown sugar and combine well with spatula. Cover and place in refrigerator.
Lightly coat bottom of bundt pan with cooking spray.
Melt butter, then add remaining brown sugar and stir well. Bring to a light boil to caramelize then pour 1/3 of the butter/brown sugar mix across bottom of bundt pan.
Remove cream cheese mix from refrigerator. Take one roll at a time into your hands and pull outward on sides to increase size slightly. Place approximately 1 Tbsp. of the cream cheese mixture into middle of roll. Fold dough around the mixture, pinch closed, then roll into a tight ball.
Evenly place 8 balls across bottom of bundt pan. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. of sugar/cinnamon. Pour second 1/3 of the brown sugar/butter mixture over 8 buns. Repeat process with remaining 12 dough balls for second layer. First the dough balls, 2 Tbsp. sugar/cinnamon and finally the remaining butter/brown sugar mix.

Let rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour then bake for 45-60 minutes at 350°. You will need to lay a piece of foil over top of pan after about 40 minutes when the buns start looking browned.
Remove from oven then immediately turn over onto large plate. Remove bundt pan. Serve warm or room temperature.