Daily Tidbits

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cinnamon Honey Butter

Printable Recipe

1 stick of butter (room temp)
1/4 cups of powdered sugar
1/4 cups of honey
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Whip butter with whisk or whisk attachment in mixer.  Add powdered sugar, honey and cinnamon and mix well, until smooth.

Holly's Note:
We recently discovered Texas Road House and love it.  The rolls and cinnamon honey butter are fantastic.  For Christmas this year, when a girlfriend dropped off a treat of homemade french bread and cinnamon honey butter, I had to have the recipe.  There are a lot of variations out there, but we like this one. The original recipe called for 1 t. of cinnamon, but The Doctor thought it needed more, so this recipe reflects our preference of 1 1/2 t. cinnamon.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Baking

Looking for some yummy treats to add to your Christmas Baking this year?

White Chocolate Treats

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownie Muffins

Peppermint Crunch Cookies

Peanut Blossoms

Rocky Road

Vanilla Sugar Cookie/Bars

Don't forget yummy Cinnamon Rolls for Christmas breakfast!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

White Chocolate Treats

Printable Recipe

1 1/2 lbs white chocolate or 2 pkgs (12 oz.) vanilla chips
1 1/4 cup peanut butter
2 cups Rice Krispies
1 cup unsalted peanuts
2 cups miniature marshmallows

Melt vanilla chips and peanut butter together until smooth.  Stir in Rice Krispies, peanuts and marshmallows. Stir until well mixed and coated in the peanut butter mixture.

Drop candy on wax paper in 1 T size dollops, or spoon into mini muffin baking cups.

Makes ~80 pieces of candy.  Store in a covered container.

Holly's Note:

This is a staple of my dear mother's Christmas Goodie plates.  I believe that she received the recipe many years ago from a neighbor.  These are easy to make, delicious to eat and very, very rich.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Rocky Road

Printable Recipe

1 pkg. chocolate chips (either kind)
1 can condensed milk
1 large bag mini marshmallows (use only about ¾ of the bag)
1 16 oz. jar roasted peanuts (use ¾ of the jar)

Line a 9 x 13 pan with waxed paper. Mix the marshmallows and nuts in a large bowl. Heat the chocolate and milk together until melted. Add a little vanilla extract and pour over the marshmallow/nut mixture and mix well. Pour into the pan. Press another sheet of wax paper on the top. Refrigerate until firm. Cut and enjoy.

Holly's Note:
This is traditionally a Christmas treat, but my boys like it year round!

Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My New Mixer

I've had a trusty white KitchenAid mixer that I have used for 15 years.  It has been faithful and hard working.  But, all good things end and my mixer died.

I have a very generous mother and as an early Birthday/Christmas present, she gave me this brand new KitchenAid Professional 600.  It's a gorgeous tangerine orange and I smile every time I walk into my kitchen and see it.

I love it.  It's sassy, just like me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pressure Canning Broth

I love to can and each year I usually do several kinds of jam, salsa and tomatoes.  This year, my mom brought me a pressure canner because I've been wanting to branch out with my food preservation and storage.

I've always made my own chicken, turkey and beef broth, but I just freeze it flat, in plastic bags.  It works ok, but I always forget to take it out ahead of time and then need to thaw it when I'm cooking.  I came across a post at Simply Canning about canning your own broth and I thought, "Cool!".

I followed her directions, boiled up the turkey carcass with some additional seasoning, celery, carrots, onion and garlic and figured out my pressure canner and, "Voila!"

9 pints of turkey broth.  I am thrilled at how easy it was and now I can free up some freezer space.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Shepherd's Pie

Forgive the picture quality.  I just snapped it, I didn't have time for presentation!  

I think I like Thanksgiving Shepherd's pie better than regular Shepherd's Pie.  Even if we have Thanksgiving at someone else's home, I make a turkey with all the fixings for us, just so we can have Thanskgiving Shepherd's Pie.  (Of course, having all that shredded turkey in the freezer is good too...)

This time around, I simply took some turkey, most of the leftover stuffing, and all the leftover corn.  I didn't have quite enough gravy, but simply took what I had, heated it on the stove and added more water and seasonings and a bit of cornstarch/cold water for thickening.  Mixed it into the turkey mixture, dumped it in a pan and spread the leftover mashed potatoes over the top.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes and it's dinner!

This post has been shared at Weekend Potluck, Beautifully Creative, Front Porch Friday, Pin Me Link Party,  

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cloverleaf Rolls

Printable Recipe

1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1-1/4 cups warm milk (110° to 115°)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Additional butter, melted

Directions: In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add the butter, egg, sugar, salt and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch the dough down and divide in half. Divide each half into 36 pieces and shape into balls. Place three balls each in greased muffin cups. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Brush with additional butter.

Bake at 375° for 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks. Serve warm. Yield: 2 dozen.

Holly's Note:
I decided to try a new roll recipe for Thanksgiving and these were fantastic.  I found the original recipe in the Taste of Home Cooking School Cookbook and you can find it here.  This recipe was super easy and fast and the rolls were absolutely delicious.  I have a new go to recipe.

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Stuffing in a Crockpot

Basically, put your prepared stuffing in your crockpot and cook on low for 4 hours. Take the top off for the last 30 minutes to let it get a little crusty.

I am a stuffing traditionalist.  I don't like it stuffed inside the turkey.  I like it cooked in a pan.  Stove-Top is not real stuffing.  I like traditional stuffing with bread cubes, butter, celery, onions, sage and poultry seasoning.  I don't add apples or sausage or cornbread. I know it's called "dressing" if it's not cooked inside the bird, but I have always called it stuffing and I will continue to do so!

I also prepare my stuffing the night before and let it sit covered overnight in the fridge, if there is room, or covered in my cold garage if there's not.

Cooking the stuffing in a crockpot is awesome and it frees up the oven that is too small anyway!  I've prepared my stuffing this way for the last 4 years and I can't see myself doing it any differently unless I get blessed with more than one oven in my kitchen at some future point!

This post was shared at Fall into the Holidays, Happy Holidays Link Party, Weekend PotluckBeautifully CreativeFarmgirl FridayFridays Five, Pin Me Link Party, No Rules Blog PartyWhat to do Weekends,Food on Friday

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanks for visiting 2 Kids and Tired Cooks this year.  May you have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Taste of Home Best Loved Recipes...Review

Real recipes from real home cooks—they’re what make Taste of Home one of America’s most popular—and most trusted—names in home cooking. Over the years, we’ve featured tens of thousands of recipes in our magazines and websites. But what makes this book so special is that it features not just great recipes. Not just award-winning recipes.

These are our best-loved recipes: The ones that conjure up heavenly aromas, that bring you back to Sunday dinner tables, summer picnics and holiday parties, that call vividly to mind the special cooks who made them. The ones that make you close your eyes, smile and say, “Mmmmm!” They’re all here—cook-off winners and bake-sale favorites, must-have comfort foods and secret family recipes, regional specialties packed with flavor and style.

This collection contains 1,485 of the most requested, most beloved dishes, all submitted by Taste of Home readers. Recipes for all occasions are included from Blueberry Cheesecake Flapjacks to Caramel Apple Bread Pudding, mouthwatering main dishes from Creamy Seafood-Stuffed Shells to Chicken with Rosemary Butter Sauce, and delicious dessert recipes from Magnolia Dream Cheesecake to Chocolate Ganache Tarts. Here’s what else is included:

Top 100 favorites recipes
Prep/Cook Times
Recipe comments from our web community
Everyday ingredients
Easy-to-follow directions
How-to photos
Cooking tips
26 chapters
20 photo sections with 400 full-color photos

The most cherished magazine features are included: Mom Made it Best, Our Favorite Contributor’s Meals, Mealtime Express, Cooking for One or Two, Grand-Prize Winners and Potluck Picks. Besides special features, the remaining chapters cover everything from appetizers and beverages to entrees and sides and breads and desserts.

This is a big cookbook and it's bulky.  It took several evenings for me to look through the entire thing and mark recipes I wanted to try and there were a lot.  One cold evening, however, I remembered a soup recipe I'd seen and I found it easily in the Index.  And, like you've come to expect from Taste of Home recipes, I had all the necessary ingredients on hand which was nice.

One thing I have always loved about the Taste of Home magazines is the photos.  Nearly every recipe in a magazine will have a photo.  Here, there are about 400 photos for 1485 recipes and those photos are bunched together in sections.  Not my favorite structure.  I prefer photos with the recipes.

The Mealtime Express section is cool, with the whole menu planned by theme: Mexican, Sandwiches, etc.  The Index is good and something that will be well used, as it's the quickest way to find a particular recipe and you can search by alphabet or main ingredient or recipe type.  There's also an index where you can search by year, but I'm not sure why you would. I also liked that there were suggestions from people who had commented online after preparing some of the recipes.

One of the recipes I've prepared is Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder and it was a hit.  You can see the recipe here.  It will go into our soup rotation.

Overall, this is a cookbook I like.  It's one that I know will get a lot of use.

Thanks to Leyane at FSB Associates for the opportunity to review this book.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 11/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder

Printable Recipe

1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces (or about 2 cups of cooked, diced chicken)
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup hot water
2 t. chicken bouillon granules
1 t. ground cumin
2 t. homemade taco seasoning
1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
~2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 can (14-3/4 ounces) corn, undrained
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies, undrained

In skillet or soup pot, brown chicken and onion in butter until chicken is no longer pink. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add the water, bouillon, cumin and taco seasoning; bring to a boil. If you're using cooked chicken, add it now. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in the cream, cheese, corn, and chilies. Cook and stir over low heat until cheese is melted.  Serve with a loaf of crusty bread.

Serves 4-5.

Holly's Notes:
The original recipe came from the Taste of Home Best Loved Recipes cookbook, but can also be found at the Taste of Home website.  This is my version, because I rarely prepare a recipe as it's written.  The original recipe called for hot pepper sauce and a tomato, I left those out.  Also, I used leftover chicken and just added it when I added the water, bouillon and spices.  I also don't like cumin by itself, so I added 2 teaspoons of my amazing taco seasoning and it was fantastic.  Just the right amount of smoky spice.  This was easy and oh so yummy on a cold evening.  My family declared it a keeper.

This post was shared at Carole's Chatter.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cornish Pasties

Printable Recipe

For the pastry:
3 3/4 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
sea salt
8 oz. cold unsalted butter
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 cup water

For the filling:
12 oz skirt steak
1 onion, peeled
1 potato, peeled
1 small carrot, peeled
1 or two small root vegetables of your choice, peeled
olive oil
2 T cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

Pour the flour into a bowl, season it with a pinch of salt, then use your thumbs and forefingers to rub in the butter.  Add 3/4 cup water and use your hands to quickly mix it up.  As it comes together, squeeze, hug and pat it together crudely and imperfectly as Jamie says.  Add a splash more water here if need be, but please don't overwork it or it won't be flaky.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the steak and vegetables into 1/3 inch dice, then put into a bowl.  Season as you wish.  I have a favorite bbq seasoning that I use on meat, but you can use anything you want for any flavor you want: southwestern, cajun, simple salt and pepper, whatever you desire.  Mix the cornstarch and water together and pour over the filling mixture, mixing it together so it will form a bit of gravy, but not be soupy.

Cut the pastry into 6 equal pieces and roll each one into a ball.  Dust a clean surface and a rolling pin with flour, then pat and roll each piece of pastry out to the thickness of a quarter, dusting and turning as you go. Repeat until you have 6 rounds of roughly 8 inches in diameter.  Get a little filling, compact it into your hand, and place it in the middle of one of the pastry rounds, leaving a border around the edge.  Drizzle with a little olive oil, then brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg and fold the pastry over the filling mixture to make a semicircle.   Place pasties on a greased baking tray.  Pasties don't need to be smooth and perfect. Personally, I prefer the rustic look!

Brush the pasties all over with the beaten egg and bake in the oven for around 30-35 minutes or until golden.

Serves 6.

Holly's Note:
This is my version of Jamie Oliver's original Early Autumn Cornish Pasties recipe in Jamie Oliver's Great Britain. The nice thing about a recipe like this is that you can change the vegetables and flavors to suit your own tastes or season.  The original recipe called for butternut squash and zucchini, which I didn't have on hand, but might put in, if I did.  My husband loves parsnips and I despise them, but I would add parsnips to a couple of these pasties for him.  If I had a sweet potato on hand, I would put that in.  Asparagus or peas would be nice in the spring or summer.

These are also good if you have a leftover stew or meat dish.  Wrap it up in a pastry and voila, a new yummy dinner.

The original pasties were a bit dry, and so I added the water and cornstarch mixture to thicken up the natural juices and make a bit of gravy.  It's also important to dice the vegetables and meat fairly small, to make it all blend together well.

I actually prefer to make pasties with my own pie crust, rather than this version.  Since I always have pie crusts in the freezer, it's really easy to put together pasties when we have leftovers.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Taco Seasoning Mix

Printable Recipe

2 t. salt
2 T. chili powder
2 T. Smoked Paprika
2 T. flour
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. cumin
1/2 t. oregano

Mix together and store in a container. Use 2 Tablespoons to 1 cup of water for each pound of hamburger if you're doing tacos.

Holly's Note: 
I haven't purchased regular taco seasoning since I found this recipe. I love that I can use more or less, depending on the recipe and our tastes. The key to this being the best taco seasoning ever is to use Smoked Paprika. Seriously. I get mine at Costco and it adds the most amazing depth. 

Using a mason jar with the lid from a Parmesan cheese container makes it really easy to store and either spoon or shake into other recipes.

And as far as tripling or quadrupling to fill a mason jar.  I just add all the ingredients three or four times each.  I'm not a math person!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Farmer’s Daughter – Recipes from a Mennonite Kitchen...Review

About the book:
Welcome to the warm and inviting kitchen of Dawn Stoltzfus, a young Mennonite wife and mother who was raised on a dairy farm where simple, wholesome food was a key ingredient of the good life. In A Farmer's Daughter, she opens up her recipe box, wipes away the crumbs and wrinkles from the well-loved recipes and shares them with cooks and food-lovers everywhere. She offers us over two hundred delicious recipes that reflect the comfort foods she learned to cook from her mother, the same hearty and creative recipes she made and sold at The Farmer's Wife Market.

Along with the simple, wholesome recipes for starters, main dishes, sides and desserts, readers will find charming stories from Dawn's Mennonite upbringing, tips and tricks for easy meal planning and preparation, and ideas for serving with flair. Anyone who loves to feed their loved ones hearty, wholesome meals will treasure this cookbook.

When I first received this cookbook, I went through it and tagged all the recipes I wanted to try.  One of those was the sauce from Barbecued Meatballs.  I had some pork ribs that I wanted to get used and so I dumped them into my crockpot with a doubled recipe of this sauce.

1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
2 t. yellow mustard
2 t. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. liquid smoke
1/8 t. pepper

Now the original recipe states to combine all ingredients, heat and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.  The sauce also stores well in the refrigerator for 3-4 months.

I didn't cook it, nor did I save any to refrigerate for later.  I mixed up a doubled version, poured it all over the ribs and let them cook in my crockpot for about 8 hours.  They were divine.  My family decreed that this was their new favorite bbq sauce.  Very mild, yet smooth and flavorful.

This is just a great cookbook.  Most, not all, recipes show serving sizes and all require every day ingredients you probably have on hand.  I love the little anecdotes and the "And Another Thing...And Another Thing" notes at the end of many recipes where she shares additional hints or suggestions about a particular recipe.

There is a great section in the back about Do-It-Yourself recipes.

She makes French Toast like I do, with cinnamon and vanilla.  So much better than plain french toast!

Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Thanks to Donna Hausler of Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Dawn Stoltzfus here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Amish Family Cookbook...Review

About the book:
From the table of bestselling author Jerry Eicher and his wife, Tina, comes this warm and inviting peek into an Amish kitchen. From the family dinner table to the largest potluck, you'll find comfort in such wholesome and hearty dishes as:

Baked Blueberry and Peach Oatmeal
Mamm's Dinner Rolls
Cheesy Potato Soup
Amish Upside-Down Berry Cake
Pumpkin Cream Cupcakes

Complete with recipes from Jerry's beloved novels, Amish wisdom and humor from the Plain people, you'll be sure to laugh, pray, and eat robustly with The Amish Family Cookbook at your side.

I love that this cookbook has a spiral binding for it to lay open flat.  Yay!  The recipes are all family friendly will ingredients you are likely to have on hand.  Serving sizes are given inconsistently, which is frustrating as many recipes are also meant to serve crowds.  It's nice to know at a glance, if a recipe serves 6, 8, or 24.

I enjoyed the Amish proverbs shared in the margins.  My favorite?  "Listening is fifty percent of our education."

A charming cookbook with good, down-home recipes that are sure to please any family.

Thanks to First Wild Card and Harvest House Publishers for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Jerry and Tina Eicher here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Taste of Home Cooking School Cookbook...Review

About the book:
No matter what you crave, cook it with confidence with Taste of Home Cooking School Cookbook! Whatever your skill level in the kitchen, you will learn step-by-step techniques and discover new favorites with more than 400 best loved recipes and over 600 full-color photos from our expert instructors. Create a memorable game-day-get-together with nacho dip, hot wings and yummy pizza. Master the grill with succulent ribeyes, monster stuffed burgers and a whole salmon fillet that’s a real showstopper. Whip up sumptuous holiday meals with all of the trimmings from citrus-rosemary rubbed turkey with artichoke stuffing to chipotle sweet potatoes and caramel apple trifle. The Taste of Home Cooking School Cookbook features delicious dishes from breakfast to lunch to dinner and including dessert, of course.Sample recipes include:

Eggs Benedict Casserole
Brie Phyllo Cups
Sweet-Tangy Wings
French Onion Soup
Lemon Chicken Tortellini
Taco Lasagna
Roasted Chicken with Oyster Stuffing
Sizzling Ancho Ribeyes
Creamy Parmesan Spinach
Chocolate Mousse with Cranberry Sauce
Easy Grasshopper Ice Cream Pie

Contemporary topics are comprehensively explored with techniques ranging from simple basics to true wow-factor recipes. Each recipe has been tasted and reviewed in the Taste of Home test kitchen, plus there are over 140 practical, proven tips from our Cooking School experts—so you’ll enjoy perfect results every time.

One of the things I really like about the Taste of Home cooking magazines is the pictures.  And, this cookbook is full of them.  As near as I can tell, there is a picture for every recipe.  There is also an introduction which has some basic how to's, kitchen stocking and cookware helps and the occasional recipe also has how to photos along with the finished product.  Like most Taste of Home recipes, these are fairly easy and most can be prepared with what you already have in your pantry.

One of my favorites from this new cookbook is Cashew Chicken (page 71).  As soon as I make it again, I'll post the recipe with a picture.

This would be a great gift for a new bride or college student.

Thanks to Leyane at FSB Associates for the opportunity to review this cookbook.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 8/12

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Friday, August 17, 2012

Food Family Style: Simple and Tasty Recipes for Everyday Life...Review

About the book:
In a time when the family meal is increasingly losing out to music lessons, sports practices, and the general busyness of life, it's time to rediscover the joys of cooking and eating together as a family. Time may be short and budgets may be tight, but these 365 mouthwatering recipes are sure to draw families into the kitchen and around the table day after day. From tasty breakfasts, soups, and salads to sumptuous main dishes and desserts, Food Family Style delivers just what readers' families ordered.

Throughout the book are symbols indicating recipes that double easily, freeze well, are gluten-free or vegetarian, can be made in a slow cooker, and more. And since there's more to mealtime than just the food, this innovative book also includes tips about how to involve kids in meal preparation, meaningful conversation starters, and simple ideas to bring warmth to your home.

I love family friendly cookbooks and this one doesn't disappoint.

The book is organized by category with an index organized by ingredient.  The recipes are easy to follow and family/child friendly with serving sizes listed.  Most use every day ingredients that you have on hand.  There are helpful hints and tips in the margins as well as a chapter on kitchen and pantry essentials and healthy substitutions.

My biggest complaint about any cookbook is when there are no photos.  Having an idea of what the finished recipe looks like is one of the cool things about cooking.  But, aside from that, this is a cookbook that I will keep and use.  I have many, many recipes tagged.

One I can recommend is:

Breakfast Mini Quiches

1 prepared pie crust
8 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup cooked, diced bacon
(I added salt, pepper, a sprinkle of nutmeg and some diced onion)

Preheat oven to 375.  Cut out 6 circles from the pie crust (about 3 inches in diameter) and place in greased muffin cups.  Put muffin tin in refrigerator while you make the filling.  In a bow, beat together eggs, milk, cheese and bacon.  Fill prepared muffin tins and bake  20-25 minutes until puff and slightly brown.  Let cool 3 minutes and remove from tins.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Available August 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Thanks to Donna Hausler of Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Leigh Olivier Vickery here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 8/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Friday, May 4, 2012

Family Favorites: Vanilla Sugar Cookie Bars

Sugar Cookie Bars.

Whether you roll them out and cut them into shapes, or simply press the dough into a pan, this is the best sugar cookie I've ever had.  I grew up eating them and now my kids do.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Family Favorites: Cocoa Brownies

Cocoa Brownies

You will not find a better brownie.  I haven't purchased a boxed mix in, literally, years.  I won't.  Ever.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Family Favorites: Beef Enchiladas

Beef Enchiladas

Seriously.  You cannot go wrong with this recipe.  I've started substituting a cup of cooked rice for the beans and it's just as delicious.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Family Favorites: Penne Pasta Casserole

Penne Pasta Casserole

Easy and always a hit.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Family Favorites: Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara

Fast, easy and oh, so yummy.  Pair it with a salad and garlic bread.  My 11 year old takes it in his lunch the next day and eats it cold.  Seriously.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Laugh of the Day...You Know You're In Idaho When.

I live in Idaho and I collected some of these online and a few are from my own experience. Maybe some of you can relate.  Enjoy a laugh today!

You Know You're In Idaho When...

The wind is faster than your truck.
Every other vehicle is a 4x4.
You can drive 70 mph through a blizzard and not even flinch.
You see cowboy boots at church.
Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.
Your outside water is turned on in the spring and turned off in the fall.
When the sun goes down you start looking for your coat.
You commonly pronounce French terms and names in a manner that would make a Parisian declare war (Dubois: Dew Boysss) (Coeur d'Alene: Core-Dah-Layne)
The local paper covers national and international headlines on one page but requires 6 pages for cattle prices and high school sports.
Blue and orange are the state colors.
Yellow light means "follow the car in front of you no matter what."
You've broken down on the highway and somebody stops to help you.
You can see the stars at night.
You step outside and know exactly where the neighbor's cows are because you smell them before you see them.
The weather hits 50 degrees and your kids want to put on their shorts because it's so warm.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Creative Slow-Cooker Meals...Review

About the book:
From the celebrated coauthor of 
The Marriage Miracle comes a new kind of cookbook and a new attitude toward planning meals. With an eye toward the whole menu, not just part of it, columnist Cheryl Moeller teaches cooks to use two crockpots to easily create healthy, homemade dinners.

Don’t worry about your dinner being reduced to a mushy stew. Each of the more than 200 recipes has been taste-tested at Cheryl’s table. Join the Moeller family as you dig into:

Harvest-time Halibut Chowder
Salmon and Gingered Carrots
Mediterranean Rice Pilaf
Indian Chicken Curry
Apricot-Pistachio Bread
Shrimp Creole
Rhubarb Crisp

... and many more! Perfect for the frazzled mom who never has enough time in the day, 
Creative Slow-Cooker Meals gives readers more time around the table with delicious, healthy, frugal, and easy meals!

This was a cookbook that I was excited to review, but one that I ultimately have mixed feelings about.  I love the spiral binding which makes it so easy for the book to stay open. I also love the idea of using two slow cooker to prepare a meal.   I own two slow cookers and it seems so logical to use both, yet I've never considered it.  Cheryl Moeller also covers Gluten-Free, Dairy Free and Vegan recipes, which will be a big plus for many people.

Unfortunately, there were no recipes that appealed to me although I gained some ideas for meals I could fix in a slow cooker that I hadn't considered before.  The index is very general.  I wanted to find the recipe for Chicken Manicotti that I remembered looking at, but there wasn't a category for pasta or chicken and the chapter where I ultimately found the recipe was called, "For the Kitchen with the Revolving Door" which isn't very specific as far as it being about dinner or main dishes.  I hadn't remembered the recipe as being chicken anyway, just that it was a stuffed manicotti, so it took some thumbing to find it.  I do like the idea of cooking stuffed pasta in the slow-cooker, but I will probably use my own stuffed shell recipe instead of this one.

The book doesn't give sizes or servings.  I have two different sized crock pots and it would be nice if the recipes stated the appropriate size slow cooker to use.  Also, and this is a big one for me: none of the recipes gave serving sizes.  I like knowing that I'm going to have lots of leftovers or that I should double a recipe.  Obviously you can infer sizes or amounts, but it takes away a lot of guesswork to look at a recipe and see the words, "Serves 4" or "Serves 8".

While this isn't one that will get much use at my house, it is one that will appeal to many people, especially those looking to save time and use their crock pots a lot more.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Harvest House Publishers for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Cheryl Moeller here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 2/12

* *
2/5 Stars

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Conversation at Our House

Yesterday afternoon, I received a random text from my teenage son, when  I knew him to be on the school bus on his way home.  What follows is our conversation:

E: Can you make me a pound cake
M: What, right now?
E: Yeah
M: How about you help me do it when you get home, so you can learn how?
E: Sure thnx

So, because I try to be a good mom...

Sour Cream Pound Cake.

Seriously, one of the best cakes you will ever make.  This is my son's favorite and the one he always asks for on his birthday. We just mixed up a fast glaze of butter and melted chocolate chips for this one (you can still see some of the lumps), but it also makes the best Strawberry Shortcake.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Family Favorites: Brown Sugar Muffins

The perfect breakfast muffin.

Brown Sugar Muffins

These have become my teenage son's specialty.  He can whip them up quickly and they're delicious.  Not too sweet and perfect with a glass of milk or to eat on the run.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Family Favorites: Hamsters

No, not the furry little pet, but a delicious breaded chicken roll-up!


My brother-in-law came up with original name and while a bit questionable, these little bundles are simply delicious.  This is a hearty, filling meal and makes a lovely presentation.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Family Favorites: Quiche

I love breakfast.  I love breakfast for dinner.


Quiche isn't necessarily a breakfast food but, traditionally, eggs and bacon are.  This is my tried and true quiche  that I make fairly regularly.  Using one of my frozen pie crusts, it's a relatively easy dinner to make.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Pork Chops with Sauteed Apples

Printable Recipe

1 T olive oil
1/2 cup sliced onion
2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I prefer Granny Smith)
1 t. dried thyme
4 boneless pork chops (about 5 oz each)

Heat the oil in a skillet, add the onions and saute them for several minutes to soften.  Add the apples and thyme and cook until golden and soft, probably about 5-8 more minutes.  Remove the onion/apple mixture from pan and set aside.

Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Grill. Top with the sauteed onions and apples mixture and serve. It's great with Rice Pilaf as a side.

Serves 4

The leftovers are delicious on top of a salad.

Holly's Note:
Forgive the photo.  It tastes much better than it looks! 

I was not familiar with Robin Miller before I reviewed her book.  But, as we are trying to eat healthier at our house, it sounded like a terrific book, and so far it is.

This was a delicious meal.  It earned serious raves from my husband and a place in our dinner rotation.  I have modified the recipe to suit my tastes better, and I cooked things longer than the recipe recommended, but you can find the original in her book, Robin Takes 5, available here.  You can see my book review here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Robin Takes 5...Review

It's 5:00 PM. Everyone's hungry. It's takeout or fakeout, meaning nuking a processed meal from the freezer. But there's a third option that doesn't include processed food or an unhealthy heap of calories and fat--Robin Takes 5.

Imagine quickly preparing delicious meals for yourself, your friends, and your family with just 5 fabulous ingredients. Does it get any better? Absolutely, with Robin Takes 5. The book features 500 recipes and each dish is a mouthwatering 500 calories or less. Two-color recipe text complements full-color photography inserts. In addition, helpful icons note ideal recipes for holidays and entertaining as well as recipes with less than 500 mg of sodium. That's not all--nutritional information is given for each recipe.

In Robin Takes 5, 500 recipes highlight at least 10 different ethnic cuisines, and dishes range from soups, pizzas, and pastas, to chicken, beef, pork, seafood, side dishes, and desserts. Consider 70 recipes just for chicken, such as Cashew Crusted Chicken with Roasted Jalapeno-Mango Chutney, and 50 dessert recipes, such as Orange Marmalade Tart with Chocolate Covered Almonds. Consider yourself armed for mealtime. The next time the clock strikes 5:00 PM and you want both noshing and nourishment, check out Robin Takes 5.

I was not familiar with Robin Miller before I received her book.  But, I love cooking and as we're trying to eat healthier at our house, this sounded terrific.  Every recipe has just about 5 ingredients and is less than 500 calories.  I've marked it up.  Seriously, it's full of post-it tabs.

I do wish there were more photos, but it's easy to read and the recipes are easy to follow.  Most recipes are fairly fast to make and not time intensive and the ingredients are ones you are likely to have on hand.  I prepared the Pork Chops with Sauteed Apples for dinner and my family loved it.  It received rave reviews and has earned a place in our dinner rotation. The leftovers are perfect on top of a salad.  Next on my list is Smothered Steak with Onions, Mushrooms and Mashed Potatoes.

Thanks to Eric at Planned Television Arts for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Robin Miller here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 1/12

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Shrimp Scampi

Printable Recipe

Serves 4

3/4-1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined (I like medium-size)
3 T Butter
2 T Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/4-1/2 cup Diced Onion
1/2 cup White Wine
Splash of broth (chicken, vegetable, doesn't matter)
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
3/4-1 lb cooked pasta (I prefer shaped pasta)
Parmesan Cheese
Salt/Pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to directions.  While pasta is cooking, heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic and saute a couple of minutes.  Add white wine, broth, red pepper flakes and shrimp. Sprinkle a little basil over it. Let it simmer 5-7 minutes or until your pasta is finished.  Drain pasta, sprinkle some Parmesan cheese over it and add your shrimp mixture. Toss it all together and enjoy.

Holly's Note:
I love shrimp, but I never cook it because my husband doesn't like seafood.  My teenage son does though, so I tried a Shrimp Scampi the other night.  I looked online and found different variations, but all recipes had basically the same ingredients, so I just really came up with my own.  This is really one of those dishes where you don't even need a real recipe. Just do everything to taste.  Since it was just the two of us eating, I didn't even use a full pound of shrimp or pasta.

I think one key is letting everything simmer together for several minutes so the sauce thickens a little and the flavors blend together.

Also, while most recipes call for long pasta (linguine, fettuccine, angel hair), I prefer shaped pasta.  I think the dish is more flavorful because shaped pasta gives you so many nooks and crannies in which to trap the sauce.

This was very light, yet filling and absolutely delicious.  It would be very easy to add your own seasonings for whatever flavor you want.

This post has been shared on Food on Friday.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Things I Never Thought I'd Say...

Something I never imagined myself saying, as a mother:

"Knock it off! We don't sword fight at the dinner table!"

Yep, sword fights with table knives.
At our house.
With two active boys, I really shouldn't be that surprised.