Sunday, November 22, 2009

Do I Have to Make Dinner? Meal Planning Success Story. 4 pm rolls around and it's time to think of something for dinner. Ohh the dread. I forgot to thaw out anything, we are out of pasta, soccer practice starts in an hour, I've got to come up with something new, yada yada yada...lets' just grab something quick at Chili's.

Up until a few weeks ago this is how my late afternoons went down. I finally did some surfing and found these two great websites that have made my life way more enjoyable in the "dinner" department.

This one is hands down my favorite thus far. If you are a family of five+ this is the way to go! There are enough portions here for all of us and them some leftovers. I love the way the grocery spread sheet is layed out complete with each ingredient check marked under its dish. This plan even includes side items such as salads and fruit. The most fabulous part, however, is that when I go to make a meal every night ALL the ingredients are present in my HOME!!! Each and every single last one of them down to the onion (I just never seem to have onions on hand).
When you sign up for this one you get:
A spreadsheet with a grocery list for the week emailed to you on Sun.
All the recipes for the week with marvelous instructions also emailed to you on Sun.
Extra cooking tidbits and recipes

This one I have less experience with, but love the pictures. Yes, I do judge books by the cover.
When you sign up for this one you get:
A weekly newsletter with recipes and pictures (which is always nice)
A grocery list in a list form
Weekly snack and dessert recipes

Believe it or not meal planning has not only simplified my evenings complete with yummy meals, but has become an enjoyable event. I never thought I would say that.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Whine Cake or is it Wine Cake?

I swear I don't remember anymore. There is so much whine in this house. Living with three whiners is obnoxious. I am constantly in a state of tripping over my own two feet (or trying to break the record time in "how fast can you fill a sippy cup") in an effort to stifle the whining as fast as humanly possible. They beg, they ask, they complain all while raising their voices eight Mariah Carey octaves unnecessarily high.

It usually sounds something like this (insert whiny voice here):

1 year old "diiii, diiii, diiii (by this point add some tears) diiii"
Translation= milk, milk, milk or water, water, water, just get me something wet lady

3 year old (add a little hostility in this voice) "I don't (sm. pause) want to take a bath"
Translation= I am in control here and if I want to sit around and eat candy all night and remain a sticky mess of filth well that is what I will do

12 year old (this one would not be complete without some raw negative emotion) "Can I have a sleepover, why?, do I have to do the dishes first? and clean my room? (eye rolling), what do you mean watch the attitude? Uurgh fine."
Translation= I think the age speaks for itself

Fortunately, this wine cake doesn't leave a bad taste in your mouth after all is said and done.

Wine Cake
1 box yellow cake mix
1 box vanilla pudding
4 eggs
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. Port wine (stick with the cheap stuff)

Mix: All above ingredients. Place in a bundt pan and bake at 325 for 1 hour.

1/2 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
2 oz. Port wine

Combine: Butter, sugar and water in a saucepan. Boil for 1 minute then remove from heat. Then add the wine. Poke holes in the cake with the end of a utensil of some sort (fork, spatula, whatever your toddler left on the floor) and pour mixture onto cake. I do this while the cake is still warm and in the bundt pan.

Topping: Real whip cream with about a 1/4 c. sugar added to it while beating. This must be strictly adhered to as it is not the same cake without the real stuff.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Nutter Butter Truffles

The Oreo Truffles are just so yummy why stop there. I saw Bakerella tried this recipe with Nutter Butter cookies and since I love peanut butter I made these for our playgroup. I tweaked the recipe just a bit because I don't believe that Nutter Butters are peanut buttery enough- they are a bit dry and lack that creamy yumminess.

I was afraid that they were not going to be as heavenly, but the peanut butter people of the world think they are equally as lovely. Dare I say that there was not one left and I made around 36 which means that between us adults we each ate about three.

Nutter Butter Truffles
1 pkg. 14 oz. Nutter Butter cookies (use entire cookie)
6 oz. cream cheese
1/4 c. peanut butter
2 pkg. Baker's chocolate in the cup (I like milk choc., but semi sweet is good too)

First: Take 5 or so Nutter Butter cookies and food process them until they are very fine. Save for sprinkling the tops.

Mix: Entire package of Nutter Butter in a food processor until very fine. Then add in cream cheese and peanut butter. The mixture will start to clump up, stick together and look wet. Stop at this point.
Roll: Into 1/2 inch balls.
Melt: Chocolate coating in m-wave for about 30 sec. Do not overheat chocolate or it will be just clumpy and gross. Also, if you throw in just a tad of Crisco (like 1/2 tsp) into the chocolate it will be much thinner and will spread easier. You can then place it in a baggie and sort of pipe the chocolate onto the balls.
Dip: Balls into coating. I used a spoon to cover them and it worked well, but it was time consuming.
Sprinkle: With crushed Nutter Butters.
Chill: For about 30 min.
Yield: 36 or so

Kid tip: If you are like me you find it very difficult to let your children's food creations actually make it to the party. Yes, even I have been caught evilly redecorating their cookies or adding to their sprinkles with prettier ones (without them knowing or seeing). This is one recipe that you can relax and let your little ones roll the balls. If they are imperfect it so does not make any difference as you are going to drench them in chocolate anyway. Of course, you can still hand them the perfect size dough as to make sure you don't end up with like six meatball sized truffles. Happiness for everyone.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Oreo Truffles- WARNING!

Yes...these are made of Oreo's and cream cheese. May cause some sort of arterial blockage. If your left arm starts to feel numb after eating half a dozen of these...don't call me I warned you! I have a couple of friends- (thank you Amber and Janine) who make these and also found them on Bakerella's here is a hybrid recipe!

Oreo Truffles

1 pkg. 14 oz. Oreo cookies + a handful more (use entire cookie)
1 8oz. pkg. cream cheese
2 pkg. Baker's chocolate in the cup (I like milk choc., but semi sweet is good too)
or vanilla candy coating

First: Take 7 or so Oreos and food process them until they are very fine. Save for sprinkling the tops.

Mix: Entire package of Oreos in a food processor until very fine. Then add in cream cheese. The mixture will start to clump up, stick together and look wet. Stop at this point.
Roll: Into 1/2 inch balls.
Melt: Chocolate or vanilla coating in m-wave for about 30 sec. Do not overheat chocolate or it will be just clumpy and gross.
Dip: Balls into coating. I used a spoon to cover them and it worked well, but it was time consuming.
Sprinkle: With crushed Oreos.
Chill: For about 30 min.
Yield: 36 or so

Just a little FYI...I prefer my balls naked (shame on you) and rolled in Oreo crumbs, but this method is just not as appealing on a plate as the dipped versions.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Just have to share some fun in the sun we had this weekend at the Renaissance Hotel here on the rock. This place has it all...beach, pools, water slides, dolphins, glamorous showers, you name it.

Big sister loves to share her orange aviator shades with one cool dude.

Not sure why the tongue sticking thing for Lily. However, the goofy faces are the norm.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Confetti Crazy

We went a wee bit confetti crazy last week. It just sounded like fun. The kitchaids love to throw, make, and eat it! So, first we made Bakerellas cake balls with confetti cake mix.

A few classic almond bark pretzels.

Then onto cupcakes for Chloe's big 12th birthday. The cupcake stand actually held 13 cupcakes, but around here we love extras. The design lead on this project was Lily. She chose from an array of sprinkles.

Some cupcake thievery going on here. This one is becoming much less of an "aide" and more of a snatcher.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Whole Wheat Banana Toddler Size Muffins

I am a huge fan of the mini-muffin pan. A woman with a toddler obviously invented it. She figured out that no matter what she baked inside of it...her picky "I don't like it" before I even tried it toddler would eat it. Brilliant! My toddler will eat almost anything I bake in my little nugget of a muffin tin. She finds immense delight in calling anything "baby ones". Thus, making everything mini...edible. So, I made these muffins for her Mother's Day Out class in hopes that all the toddlers would have the same reasonable logic.

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins
2/3 c. Canola oil
3/4 c. dark brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
3 eggs
3 bananas
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. nuts (optional- I usually leave these out when making them for children)

Mix: Oil, sugars, eggs and bananas. In a separate bowl combine whole wheat flour, baking soda, and salt.
Add: Dry mixture to wet mixture just until blended.
Bake: Fill mini muffin tin 1/2-3/4 full for 8-10 min. Be sure to not over bake as they will get drier and drier the longer you over cook them. You can also use a regular sized muffin tin and bake for the same amount of time.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Japanese Ovens and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

If you know anything about Japanese ovens...

1) They are miniature in size, of course

2) Super ingenious as they have a grilling and microwave function (seriously)

3) The buttons are all in Kanji which makes the trial and error method a bit dangerous

Reason #2 is why I now love my new foreign yet brilliant oven. I can roast vegetables in like 15 minutes flat and add them to pasta, hummus, and sandwiches. The fact that grilling in said oven shut down all the power in my house and caused me to go without an oven for three weeks is totally irrelevant.

Roasted Red Pepper Dip
3 sliced red peppers roasted in olive oil and garlic

*If you don't happen to have a Japanese oven you can try and roast them on the grill.

1 8-ounce package cream cheese

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine: All ingredients and serve with veggies or crackers.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Chocolate Oat Squares

This has been on my list of recipes to try for a long time now. It is officially one of my personal favorites! I retrieved it from one of my favorite crafty websites

Chocolate Oat Squares

1 c. plus 2 tbsp. butter or margarine, softened, divided
2 c. packed brown sugar
2 eggs
4 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
3 c. quick oats
2 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1 tsp. baking soda
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
1 c. chopped walnuts

Cream 1 c. butter and brown sugar. Beat in eggs and 2 tsp. vanilla. Combine the oats, flour, 1 teaspoon salt and baking soda in a separate bowl; stir into creamed mixture. Press 2/3 of oat mixture into a greased 9" x 13" pan.

In a saucepan combine milk, chocolate chips and remaining butter and salt. Cook and stir over low heat until chocolate is melted. Remove from the heat; stir in walnuts and remaining vanilla. Spread over the crust. Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool. Cut into squares.

Yield: 4 dozen.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

PB & J Surprise Muffins

I think that the marriage of peanut butter and jelly is possibly one of the greatest inventions of all time. Right up there with the portable potty that fits in the back of mini vans.

There are two kinds of PB & J sandwich lovers.

One has a stronger love for the peanut butter...slathers it on real thick and likes that it sticks to the top of their mouth (along with the bread) and is ridiculously hard to swallow without some sort of liquid. This type of person likes just a smidgen of jelly on that sandwich. Just enough that the sweetness just barely gets on their taste buds. These are my people.

The other is the jelly lover. Loves a thick layer of sugary jelly that overpowers the skinny layer of peanut butter. These types do not like the stickiness factor or so I have been informed. I cannot understand this sort of love as I do not appreciate the jelly overload. However, I am convinced that these people are also the type who eat jelly-filled donuts. Your out there...I know it...I have some in my family.

So, when I saw this recipe for muffins with PB and a jelly filling I was a bit apprehensive (being a PB girl) as they have a dabble of jelly filling. But, I gave it a whirl anyway figuring that all that bread around it could drown out the jelly if it was too overpowering. It turns out they are perfectly tasty.

To boot these tasty muffins are actually "healthy" which in my book is defined as "anything made with wheat flour- regardless of butter/sugar content".

PB & J Surprise Muffins
1 3/4 c. flour (white or whole wheat)
1/3 c. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
1 egg
3/4 c. milk
1/3 c. melted butter
1/2 c. jelly

Mix: All ingredients in order that they appear in the recipe. Batter will be thick.
Place: 1 tbsp. of batter into muffin tin and make indentation with finger. Then place 1 tsp. jelly in center. Cover with another tbsp. batter and spread until jelly is not visible. I do not use muffin cups, but knock yourself out.
Bake: 375 degrees for 18-20 min.
Yield: 1 dozen

Monday, January 12, 2009

Holiday Cookie Exchange

This years cookie exchange was mighty caloric and tasty. Only a few minor baking disasters and really... it just wouldn't be the same without them. Thanks to everyone who attended and for their awesome efforts and recipes. For some great cookie exchange ideas visit my favorite website to start planning your very own for next year!

Airplane Meatloaf?

After a month long sabbatical...I have made a discovery. Now the obvious would be that traveling with three children (two under the ripe age of 2 and a half) overseas is completely sadistic. Nope..that I have already figured out, yet continue to bring on the brutality voluntarily and will continue to do so until further notice. Not since eating in the school cafeteria have I been subjected to food of this unique "airplane" category so often. Surprisingly, I have a love for airplane meatloaf with mashed potatoes and corn. This meal was scrumptious with the beef smothered in B-B-Que sauce and buttery russets! Who'd a thunk?

The Best Peanut Blossoms Ever's way too late for Holiday baking, but a little pink and red Valentine flair would be sweet!

Peanut Blossoms
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 egg
2 T. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix: All ingredients.
Shape: Into balls and roll in white sugar and all kinds of decorative sprinkles.
Bake: 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes
Note: Immediately press a kiss down firmly after removal from oven.