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.