Wednesday, October 28, 2009

First Giveaway!

It is time to celebrate!!!! Here is my first giveaway. We are celebrating the start of something new, a new blog. Hip to be Tied is going to feature fashionable and sassy aprons.

To kick things off I am giving away one of my Hip to be Tied aprons.

This is the giveaway apron, isn't it super cute!

To be entered into the giveaway leave a comment telling me what you think about the aprons.
Blog about it or leave a comment on facebook and get another entry(Leave a separate comment)
Have a friend leave a comment, and if they mention that you sent them over, and you get another entry!

Giveaway ends Sunday November 1, 9:00 PM PST

I am having technical difficulties with Hip to be Tied, hopefully it will be up and running by this afternoon. So take a look at them -Here they are!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What's for dinner magnets

I don't know about you guys, but sometimes we have a really hard time deciding what to have for dinner. Not really because we both want different things, but mostly because we forget what we like to make.

We go for a while making a few things pretty often, then we get tire of it, put it on the back burner of our menu's and forget about it.

To help solve that problem I came up with some What's for dinner magnets. I typed up all of the dinners that we like and printed them out on card stock. Them I cut them up into strips and attached small pieces of magnet strips to the back.

Now we can put what we are having for diner on it's respective night on our white board calendar. Now all of the dinners that we love are out in the open and easier to remember. Now I am on the hunt to make something cute to hold all of our dinner magnets.

Are you excited for my first giveaway? I am sooo excited and can hardly wait. Do you want a sneak peak, okay you talked me into it. Are you ready............ here it is!

Okay, I couldn't put just one, here is one more!

Friday, October 23, 2009

I'm all out of wisdom!

I had my wisdom teeth out on Tuesday, and all I can say is YIKES! I honestly think that I would rather have a baby than have my teeth out again, it has been that bad.

I had these grand fantasies that I would be able to sit on the couch blogging and sewing while I recovered, not so much. Until this morning I have had an extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Even the hum of my sewing machine was too much for me. A switch in pain meds is making today much more bearable.

am so lucky that my husband has been able to stay home and help. I am thankful that he has a job that allows him to work from home.

So I will start fresh on Monday, with something very exciting, my first giveaway!!

I'll see you on Monday, I can't wait!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Grippy Socks

Eli is on the move! That means nothing in our house is safe, including him! To help keep him a little safer I made him some grippy socks. Call me crazy, but I love socks from the hospital. When I was 12 I had my appendix out. My first question when they told me I could go home was if I could keep the socks!

To make these super simple socks I whipped out some puff paint, do you remember that. I remember decorating t-shirts with puff paint way back in the day. I got the idea to do it on the socks from my Mom. She put my initial on the bottom of a bunch of new socks that I got when I was younger. That helped keep track of who's were who's and it made matting the socks a breeze.

On Eli's socks I tried to be a little more creative than just his initial. I have to admit I had ton's of fun. Hopefully this help at least a little with the slipping and sliding, but even if it doesn't, it is super cute to see the things on the bottom of his feet while he crawls around.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Philly Cheesesteaks

This is what we are having for dinner tonight, jealous? You should be. These are amazing, and super easy. This picture is from when we had them for dinner last week, and we are having them again this week, they are that good. And so easy to prepare. These days how much work it takes has a lot to do with how good the meal is for me. There was a bit of chopping, but I did it during nap time and I was amazed how quickly it went without 100 interruptions.

I love a good Philly Cheesesteak. There is an amazing restaurant in Michigan where my sister lives. I actually had my first Cheesesteak there at Big Johns, and I was in love. Once my Mom was visiting my sister and she actually got one, got a cooler and brought it home with her all the way to Idaho. For years no other has compared to Big Johns, until this recipe.

Heres a shout out to Our Best Bites, where this recipe came from. Those girls are amazing, check them out.

This recipe calls for a food processor, and I don't have one, but honestly it wasn't bad at all. I froze my steak for about an hour and a half before I sliced it, easy as can be. Just remember to slice thin. That is what will make it tender no matter what cut of meat you do. So with out further ado here is the recipe for the picture you have been drulling over.

Philly Cheesesteaks

1 lb. steak (you really can use any cut; since you're going to cut it up and season it heavily, there's really no need to splurge on a fillet mignon.)
2 Tbsp. butter
1 green bell pepper
1 medium yellow onion
White cheese (mozzarella or Swiss or provolone)
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Hot sauce -I didn't have hot sauce, and still super yummy!
4-6 Hoagie rolls

Slice bell peppers and onions . Set aside. Slice frozen meat . Set aside. Heat 2 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add steak and stir-fry. Season heavily with salt and lots of freshly-ground pepper. When meat is about half-cooked, add peppers and onions. Stir occasionally, cooking until most of the liquid is evaporated and meat is cooked through. Season with hot sauce to taste. It's up to you, I didn't use any and I thought they were great. Slice buns and spoon steak mixture inside. Top with cheese and place under broiler (I used my toaster oven) for 1-2 minutes or until cheese is melted and bread is slightly toasty. Enjoy

Monday, October 12, 2009

Skor Cookies

It is national cookie month! Isn't that a wonderful idea? I am not sure if other desserts have their own months to be celebrated, but if they don't I am going to start.

To celebrate cookie month I am going to share on of my all time favorite cookie recipes. I love Skor Bars, they are just such a yummy candy. Well they use to sell the toffee from the Skor Bar as baking chips, I am not sure what happened, but they stopped. They sell Heath chips, but they just aren't the same.

Well a few months ago I was walking through Cash and Carry and what did I spy? Skor Bar Chips, like manna from Heaven. I have not seen the real Skor Bar Chips in years. So I ended up getting this.....

Yes, that is a 3 POUND bag of Skor Bar Chips. I may never see them again, I had to act.

My first recipe using these wonderful little bites of deliciousness was my good old Skor Cookie recipe. This was one of the very first recipes that I perfected back in my beginning years of baking.

My husband thought that these were going to be a bit strange, but he was quickly converted. Once baked in the cookies the Skor pieces become soft and chewy. Crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, perfect!

Skor Cookies
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (10 ounce) package Skor English toffee bits (you can use any toffee chips, but if you find Skor Chips,use those)
1. Cream together butter, both sugars, eggs and vanilla
2. Mix in pre-mixed dry ingredients
3. Stir in toffee chips
4. Drop rounded teaspoons full on lightly greased cookie sheet
5. Bake 9 to 11 minutes, until lightly browned
6. Cool slightly on cookie sheet, remove from sheet and place on wire rack.
7. Try not to eat them all yourself!

Friday, October 9, 2009

I must have it!!!

Last night we went to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, YUM!
As every good dinner at the Cheesecake Factory should end, we got some amazing cheesecake.

It is fall time, so they have wonderful seasonal cheesecake.
I picked the Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake
Very excellent choice

(Don't mind the bite out of it, I couldn't help myself!)

This isn't just Pumpkin Cheesecake with pecans in it, oh no.
This is a Pecan Pie with Pumpkin Cheesecake on top!!!
Oh My Goodness

How have I ever lived with out this?
Is there a recipe out there for this?
I must have it, I must have it!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sassy Apron

I have a new sewing machine! Actually I have had it since the end of July, and I haven't used it yet, until yesterday. To my defense, my new sewing machine came at a really bad time, right after my kidney stone surgery. I have had every intention of pulling it out, but life got the better of me.

Well yesterday morning my husband sent me an email from work. We had a very busy weekend with family in town, so he told me to take the day off. Just forget about the house today, he said, and do some fun things for yourself. So I did!

In between holding my sick baby and his short naps, I got out my new sewing machine and created something beautiful. I love my new sewing machine, I don't know how I ever sewed without it before.

I had these wonderful Halloween fabrics. So I grabbed them and headed over to Make it and Love it. This wonderful blog is full of amazing tutorials.

I decided to do the super cute apron. It took a little bit of time, because Eli kept trying to help me, but once he was napping it was super fast.

I love it! And I love that I have my new sewing machine out and I am creating beautiful things once again. You can bet that there will be lots more sewing projects coming soon.

Hawaiian Haystacks

Good Monday morning! Where did the weekend go? We had a very busy weekend with family in town. Having extra family around always means lots of cooking. Saturday night I departed from my original plan for dinner and threw together some Hawaiian Haystacks.

I have no idea where the name came from. I really doubt that they are truly Hawaiian, and they don't really look like haystacks.

I love making haystacks for groups of people. Because they are completely customizable. Everyone can add just what they want, so even the pickiest of eater can be satisfied.

My sister in law commented that she really like the sauce, because it wasn't super runny. I love this sauce too, it is a combination of a few recipes that I tweaked. It isn't just a watered down cream of chicken soup, it is a real sauce, and I love that.

Hawaiian Haystacks
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, chopped

1.Melt butter in sauce pan
2. Add flour, salt and milk
3. Stir well, until smooth
4. Add can of soup and chicken
5. Simmer
6. Serve over rice, top as desired

Possible Toppings
  • celery
  • Pineapple tidbits
  • green onions
  • chopped bell peppers
  • water chestnuts
  • chow mein noodles
  • shredded cheese
  • coconut
  • almond slivers
  • diced tomatoes
Stay tuned for more great cooking this week as my in-laws come to town and I throw a fabulous baby shower!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pear Bread

I love Fall! I love all of the wonderful things that come along with Fall, changing colors, cooler days, harvest, decorating for the holidays, I love it all.

One thing that I only get to bake in the Fall is Pear Bread. We have been making this for as long as I can remember. This recipe came from my Mom, but before that I have no idea. I have never heard of anyone else having Pear Bread, but trust me it is DELISH!

So run grab those wonderful Fall pears and make some yummy yummy bread!

Pear Bread
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup buttermilk or yogurt
2 cups fresh pears, diced
2 Tablespoons vanilla

  • Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs.
  • Mix dry ingredients, add to creamed mixture alternating with buttermilk
  • Fold in pears and vanilla
  • Pour into 2 greased and flour bread pans
Bake at 350 for 1 hour

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls

Once again it has been way too long since I posted. I thought our crazy schedule would end with summer, but it hasn't, I guess that is just our lives.

A few weeks ago I made some amazing cinnamon rolls. This recipe makes a ton, and they were devoured and loved by many lucky recipients. A few people asked for the recipe, so that definitely means it is a keeper. So I will let you in on the secret too.

This amazing recipe comes from a food blog that I adore, Sisters' Cafe. This blog is a go to for me. They always have a wealth of great recipes, and beautiful pictures. And since there are several sisters that contribute, you get several different styles of cooking. Give these wonderful rolls a try, and you will definitely be hooked on Sisters' Cafe too!

Cinnamon Rolls
submitted by Melanie Christensen

2 c. milk
2 cubes butter (1 cup)
2 pkg yeast (4 ½ tsp)
1/3 c. warm water
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp salt
4 beaten eggs
8 c. flour
Filling: 1 square softened butter & cinnamon(lots) & sugar

Heat milk and 2 squares of butter together until butter is melted. Cool and set aside. Mix yeast and warm water; let stand 5 minutes. Add cooled milk, 1 1/3 c. sugar, 1 tsp salt, 4 beaten eggs. Add 4 c. flour and mix and gradually add 4 additional cups flour. Dough should be firm but sticky. Cover with cloth and put in a warm place, and raise 1 ½ to 2 hours. Dough should nearly be doubled in size. Divide dough in half and empty onto floured surface and knead a little. Roll dough into rectangle, about ½ inch thick. To this half of dough, spread on ½ square of softened butter, completely covering dough. Then sprinkle a coating of sugar over entire piece of dough. Then a layer of cinnamon. Be generous with the cinnamon; this is what makes it tasty. Roll into long roll, pinch edges together and slice with dental floss. Place on a cookie sheet covered with a silpt or parchment paper. Do same thing to second half of dough. Cover with a clean dishtowel (or saran wrap sprayed with cooking spray) and put in warm place, free of drafts, for 2 to 5 hours to raise--just depends-but the should be double in size. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until barely browned. Remove from oven and let set for 5 minutes. Drizzle with glaze while still warm. Makes 3-4 dozen.

Butter Cream Glaze:
1 cube softened butter (1/2 cup)
1 tsp vanilla
dash of salt
dash of cream of tarter
1 1/2 lbs powdered sugar
scalded milk or cream

Add all together...adding milk a little at a time, alternately with the powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. For cinnamon rolls, it needs to be a little thinner than regular icing.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bake it Pretty!

I was waiting in a Dr. office a few weeks ago when I came across an article about this wonderful website. It only took me a few minutes to fall in love.

Look at these...

and these...

and these, these are edible!

Check out this amazing website.
So you can Bake it Pretty

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I Heart IKEA!

When we moved into our new place I was super excited about having a pantry. After the rush of moving in, our pantry turned into a bit of a black hole. Every time I opened the pantry I hated the mess that I saw. I decided that I had waited too long for a pantry, so I was going to make good use of it.

Armed with determination and the stroller Eli and I headed off to Ikea. Once again Ikea did not disappoint. I found exactly what I needed to take my pantry from a black hole to a ray of sunshine.

My favorite part is that the top of the lid has a half circle raised edge, to make stacking easier. Head to your nearest Ikea and check out the things that might make your day a little brighter.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Playing Nurse

Things have been so busy for me. My Mom had rotator cuff surgery last Monday, so I headed back home to play nurse. I feel like I have been running around without my head. We have been in our new apartment for almost a month, and I have been gone for 1/2 of it!

I am so excited to get back to crafting and cooking. I was able to practice some candy making skills while I was there, and I am very excited to share that with you soon. Also, my amazing husband got me a new sewing machine for Mother's Day. Creativity and crafting here I come!

Monday, April 27, 2009

5 Dollar Dinners

Who does not want to save money these days? We can't change the price of things at the store, but we can save money by shopping and cooking smarter.

I have visited this blog several times and enjoyed its frugal recipes and shopping tips. I was so excited to see her on Rachael Ray. Check out her website, and start cutting back on what you spend to feed your family.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Back for real this time

Well moving, blogging and being a new Mommy was more than I could take. Now we are moved in and back to our normal lives.

I could not sleep last night, and as I was laying awake I was thinking how much I have missed creating. I have been on a bit of a cooking hiatus because everything was in boxes. I long to sew, but can't because my sewing machine eats fabric. When I scrapbook I like to lay things out everywhere, and we just didn't have the space. My heart has a need to create. I am coming to understand my need to make beautiful things better after I created my amazing baby Eli.

So I am recommitting myself to the things that make me feel complete and happy.

I made this salad a few weeks ago with leftover cabbage from St. Patrick's day. It is easy, super fast to throw together and yummy!

Oriental Chicken Salad
1/2 head of cabbage, thinly sliced
1-2 cups chicken, cooked and diced
2 green onions, chopped fine
1 package Top Ramen noodles, broken
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
2 Tablespoons slivered almonds

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 packet Top Ramen seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Combine all salad ingredients, wisk together dressing, mix with salad and enjoy!

Monday, March 16, 2009

I am back, with Broccoli Special!

Well, I am back. Eli is six weeks old now, and I figured it was time to get back to business. I have thought a lot about posting, but haven't actually gotten it done. But, I am now back by popular demand. Yes, a few people have actually asked when I was going to post again, and I was flattered.

Things have been a little crazy around here. We have had a lot of family visiting the last 2 weeks, and that takes all of your time. And I guess that we figured we were not busy enough with the new baby, we have decided to move. We are moving to a new apartment that we LOVE, and I cannot wait to decorate and make it our home.

So I will try my best between loads of endless laundry, packing boxes and feedings to keep current posts up.

One of my stand by go to side dishes is broccoli special. Broccoli Special is a dish that my Mom makes, and it is amazing. I love broccoli, and when it is on sale I will buy a ton, so I can have some with ever dinner.

Broccoli Special is super easy to make, and was originally a microwave recipe. When I moved out on my own, my first apartment did not have a microwave, so I made it on the stove top. If there is broccoli in the fridge there is usually a little Tupperware of the sauce so I can dollop it on steamed broccoli any time.

Broccoli Special

1 1/2 pounds fresh broccoli
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons chopped onion
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
1/3 cup cashews (optional)

1. Chop broccoli into bite sized pieces and steam. While broccoli is steaming, make sauce.
2. Cook onions in butter until soft.
3. Add sour cream, sugar, lemon juice, poppy seeds, paprika, salt and pepper.
4. Cook 2 minutes, until hot.
5. Serve over steamed broccoli, and top with cashews, if desired.

* I usually double the sauce, because I like it with a good helping of sauce.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Beautiful Baby Boy

He is here! Here is our sweet little boy, Eli James.

Post's will be a little slow for the next few weeks, but don't worry, Eli and I will be back in no time!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I feel like all I ever post these days are recipes. I am trying my hardest to finish up projects that I have had a hard time finishing, and I am actually enjoying it. So until they are finished, here is another recipe. It is delicious, so you have nothing to worry about.

Leigh Anne over at Your Homebased Mom is amazing, and I would sing her praises all day long if I could. Her blog was actually the first crafty blog that I visited, and since then I have been hooked. She is full of great advice, recipes, and craft ideas.

This tasty Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe comes from Leigh Anne. I have always been a Sweet and Sour Chicken fan. I have had my share of sweet and sour chicken, and some are much better than others. This recipe makes one of the better Sweet and Sour dishes that I have had.

Head over to Your Homebased Mom and check out Leigh Anne's other amazing recipes and projects!

Sweet and Sour Chicken

serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes

6 tablespoons flour seasoned with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1/8 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup vinegar (I used a little bit less, to try to avoid pregnancy heartburn)

1 20 oz. can pineapple tidbits (reserve juice)

1/2 cup pineapple juice (use reserved juice)

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 red bell pepper, sliced (I used green, because that is what I had on hand)

1/4 cup onion, sliced

Coat chicken in flour and fry in olive oil until browned. Drain and set aside. In same skillet, combine cornstarch, salt, pepper, brown sugar, vinegar, pineapple juice, chicken broth and soy sauce. Cook and stir until boiling. Reduce heat and cook for 2 minutes. Add chicken, peppers, onions, and pineapple. Cook until heated through. Serve over rice. Enjoy!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Baby Thank You Cards

With all of the things that need to be done before baby arrives, I have had a hard time finishing one of the most important, thank you cards. I start making some a few weeks ago, got frustrate and didn't go back to them. In an effort to finish more things that I start, I sat down this afternoon and got them done. They turned out so cute, and I feel so satisfied that they are done.

I got the small little rocking horses at one of my baby showers, and I have no idea where they came from. I am sure that you can find something similar at craft or dollar stores. I cut my card stock down into smaller card sized pieces and punched 2 holes in the top, threaded ribbon through the holes, put the horse on and tied a bow. Super easy, and amazingly cute. The hardest part was tying the bow. For some reason my fingers were having a hard time working together today.

These cute cards will surely show my appreciation for the time and gifts that were give on my behalf.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cake Mix Cookies

Today I had the pleasure to attend a very special event. I went to a tea party. Not just any tea party, I went to tea with some very special ladies. My 3 year old neighbor Jane invited me over to share a cup of tea with her and her Mom. Jane received a her beautiful new tea set for Christmas, from neighbors who love her to death, my husband and I.

I didn't want to come to the tea party empty handed, so I whipped up these fun cookies. They are super easy, and only use 3 ingredients. It doesn't get much easier than that. I topped them with pink frosting and sprinkles, perfect for a little princess tea party. Jane loved them, and I was happy to leave the left overs for my favorite little hostess.

Cake Mix Cookies

1 boxed cake mix- I used funfetti, so there were sprinkles inside too!
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs

Mix all ingredients together until thoroughly moistened. Scoop dough into 1 inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of a spatula.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes at 375. Edges should be a light golden brown. Cool cookies for one minute before removing from sheet.

Spread with your favorite frosting while still warm.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Pecan Pie

My family loves pie, especially my Mom's pie. My memories of birthdays growing up are filled with more birthday pie than birthday cake.

My Mom makes an amazing pie, the base of which is her amazing pie crust. The crust makes the pie, it really does. If the crust of your pie is dry or tasteless, it makes the whole pie disappointing. I have actually eaten the inside of a pie and left a bad yucky crust. Really, why waste calories on something that tastes bad.

When I finally started making the pie crust on my own I was shocked at how easy it was. I wondered to myself why someone would ever buy a pre-made crust, when the delicious crust was so easy. I promise that the super easy yummy crust recipe is to come, but for now, you get a great pie recipe.... Pecan Pie!

Pecan Pie is near the top of my list of favorite desserts. It is so rich and delicious, and it has nuts so it is kind of healthy right?

I could have eaten the whole thing by myself, I am pregnant I can get away with that right?

Pecan Pie

1 cup corn syrup
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
3 whole eggs
1 heaping cup of pecans

1. Mix together corn syrup, salt, vanilla, brown sugar and melted butter.

2. Beat eggs, as if you were making scrambled eggs, add to the mixture above.

3. Pour mixture into un-baked pie crust.

4. Top with pecans

5. Bake @ 350 for 45-55 minutes.

6. Cool to room temperature.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Caramel-filled chocolate cookies

Last night as I was whipping these up I realized that this is the first recipe that I have done for the blog that included chocolate and/or caramel. I was shocked, I love chocolate and caramel, I especially love them together.

My husband bought me a new cookbook for Christmas. My Mom laughed at that because it is like a man buying a woman lingerie. He says it's for you, but it is really for him. He gets to be the recipient of all of the wonderful fruits of the cookbook, without actually cooking. It is a win win situation for him.

These cookies come from that wonderful cookbook. Actually, they are featured on the cover. You know it is good looking food when it is on the cover of the cookbook. When I opened the book on Christmas the first thing my husband informed me was that he wanted those cookies. The he showed me a few more that he had picked out that he really wanted, he's so cute. So last night I made his dreams come true and made these cookies. I think they were everything he dreamed of and more. They were amazing cookies! And as is true with most cookies, they were the best warm, because the caramel was still warm and melted.

These are caramel-filled chocolate pieces of heaven!!! Paired with a gallon of milk, I probably could have eaten the who batch. As I was nibbling on my second cookie I would see the numbers on the scale at this weeks Doctors appointment going up, but it would totally be worth it. These cookies are great, and will become part of our regular cookie rotation. I find it hard to believe that I have lived this long without them.

2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans
1 Tablespoon sugar
48 round chewy caramels in milk chocolate

1. In small bowl, stir together flour, cocoa and baking soda; set aside. In large bowl beat 1 cup sugar, brown sugar and butter, until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and eggs. Slowly beat in flour mixture until well blended. Stir in 1/2 cup of pecans. If necessary, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes for easier handling.

2. Heat oven to 375. In small bowl, mix remaining sugar and pecans. Shape about 1 Tablespoon dough around each caramel, covering completely. Press one side of each ball into pecan mixture. Place nut side up 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake 7 to 10 minutes or until set and slightly cracked. Cool 2 minutes, remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

* The original recipe then called for drizzling white chocolate over the top of the cookies. My husband insisted that they were perfect the way they were, so I did not touch them. I drizzled one with caramel for the picture. Also, my husband is not a huge fan of nuts, so I left them out of the sugar mixture that goes on top. I figured that inside the cookies would be enough for him.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Triple-Layered Lemon Bars

I love citrus fruit! Oranges, lemons and limes are so refreshing. I love how it just dances over your tongue, I love it! My husband loves them too, which means that I never have to eat them alone. Yesterday so I determined that being very pregnant was not going to stand in the way of me feeling good. So I pretended all day that I felt great, and it worked. I also made these Lemon bars for my husband. They were kind of a little thank you gift for being so patient with the lack of food I have made lately and the lack of things around the house that I have done. He has been so great, he hasn't ever turned me down when I ask for a foot or neck rub, so that deserves something great. These lemon bars were perfect, and we both loved them. I was tempted to have one for breakfast, but settled on a healthier choice. I guess there is always tomorrow!

These are the best lemon bars I have ever had. They are just the right amount of tartness and sweetness. I especially love the shortbread crust. There a few steps and they are a little more time consuming than just throwing together a box of brownies, but it is completely worth it.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup flour

Cream Cheese Filling
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract

Lemon Curd
4 large egg yolks
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 Tablespoons butter, softened

Shortbread crust: Cream butter and sugar in mixer set on high speed. Add vanilla and mix until combined. Add flour and mix at low speed until fully mixed. Press dough evenly into bottom of a 8x8 inch baking pan. Refrigerate until firm, approximately 30 minutes. Prick shortbread crust with fork and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until crust turns golden brown. Cool on rack to room temperature.

Cream Cheese filling: Beat cream cheese and sugar on high speed until smooth. Add egg and lemon extract and beat on medium speed until light and smooth. Cover bowl tightly and refrigerate.

Lemon Curd: Blend the egg yolks with cornstarch and sugar in medium non-aluminum saucepan.
Place over low heat and slowly whisk in water and lemon juice. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. Add butter and lemon peel and cool for 10 minutes.

Assemble the Bars: Spread chilled cream cheese filling evenly over cooled cooled shortbread crust. Spread lemon curd evenly over cream cheese filling. Place pan in center of oven. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until edges begin to turn a light golden brown. Cool to room temperature on rack. Chill in refrigerator 1 hour before before cutting into bars. Dust top with confectioners' sugar.

Monday, January 5, 2009

BBQ Chicken Pizza

I have found a love for pizza.

I have never been a big pizza eater, even when I was younger. There was always something that was left to be desired in pizza, as far as I was concerned. When I got pregnant, all of that changed for me. For some reason in my first trimester I craved pizza, constantly. It was a huge shock for me that I was longing for pizza, and that often it was the only thing that sounded good to me.

Now that I have moved on through this pregnancy, I no longer have a need for pizza. But there are a few types of pizza that I love anytime. One of our family favorites is BBQ Chicken Pizza. It is easy, tasty and I always have the ingredients on hand. Instead of pizza sauce you use BBQ sauce and for some reason I have always had a love affair with BBQ sauce.

I do make my own pizza crust on occasion, but I haven't lately. With only 2 of us it is a lot of work and we always have a ton of left overs. So we started using pitas as crust, and, more recently, focaccia bread. My husband loves the focaccia bread because of all the spices and herbs that are in it. And we love that they are small enough for personal sized pizzas.

We went to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch on New Years Eve and my husband ordered a salad with a small BBQ Chicken pizza. The pizza there was amazing, but I was glad to know that we were making restaurant quality pizza just like it at home.

For some reason this pizza did not like getting photographed, but you get the idea.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Use BBQ sauce instead of pizza sauce.
Top with Chicken, onions and mozzarella cheese.