Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chicken and Grape Salad

Before I bookmarked (and eventually started pinning) ideas from around the web to save for later, I cut out magazine and newspaper articles and photos. I glued them into notebooks and stuck them on my cork board.

Thanks to pinterest, much of that is done digitally now, but I still love looking through food and home decor magazines. I have far too many recipes saved (both on paper and online), so I thought I would start trying them out in order to thin out the clutter.

First up, chicken grape salad.

Chicken and Grape Salad
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Food Magazine
Serves 2

2-4 slices turkey bacon (although I have to admit, real bacon is better)
about 1 cup shredded chicken (rotisserie chickens work wonderfully for this!)
1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1/4 cup tomato basil feta cheese
1 Tablespoon finely chopped chives
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
coarse salt and ground pepper
4-6 ounces lettuce
3/4 cup seedless red grapes, halved

Cook bacon and break into bits. Shred about 1 cup of chicken, removing skin and bones. To make dressing, mix yogurt and cheese with a fork, then stir in chives and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Finally, toss chicken, bacon, grapes and lettuce together before topping with yogurt dressing.

I love fruit in salad and this one is no different. The yogurt dressing is tasty and easy to make! Not to mention fairly healthy, especially if you leave out the bacon.

This post is linked up to some of the parties listed under my Show & Tell tab at the top of the page.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Oregon to Texas to Lousiana...And Back...Again.

As I mentioned a while ago, I've been itching to travel again. Aside from dreaming up some big travel plans, I have been blessed to have a couple smaller, but wonderful vacations lined up for these first couple months of the year. The first trip was a week long to visit my best friends from college. I made this trip last year, but it was even better this time around because Michelle got to go, too! We started out by flying from Portland, Oregon to Austin, Texas, where Cara lives. Then, we road tripped to Baton Rouge, Louisiana where Kaycie and her husband Erich live.

Finally, for the first time since June 2010 at Kaycie's wedding, all 4 of us were reunited. We spent time walking around Baton Rouge and New Orleans, playing card games and hanging out. We took a painting class through Corks 'n Canvas and saw Mike the Tiger at LSU. We didn't have enough hours in the day. [Apologies in advance for the dark pictures. They are all from my phone!]

After our weekend in Louisiana and a sad good-bye to Kaycie, Erich and dogs, we road tripped back to Austin. We accomplished lots more hanging out, shopping South Congress and more eating.

As it is with amazing friends, even though we have been apart for so long, it was as if nothing changed. Well, we were in the south, not dorm rooms on campus, eating so much fried food, not Commons food, but still talking late into the night and laughing over and over again. Next reunion can't come soon enough.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lil Smokies Sauce

I am sort of surprised I haven't posted this before, but really should have done so before Super Bowl. Oh well, that's what pinterest is for, right? Pin it and save it for March Madness parties or whatever your next function is, because it is insanely simple.

Next time you're at the grocery store, grab the following three things:

BBQ sauce (16 ounces)
grape jelly (12-16 ounces)
little smokies (3 packages)

Completely empty both the BBQ sauce and grape jelly into a crock pot, then add the little smokies. Set the crock pot to warm. After about 2 hours, the jelly and BBQ sauce will be combined and little smokies ready to serve.

Growing up, one of my friend's mom would make these when we would watch football games at his house. Once I found out how easy the recipe is, I started making it myself. I remember thinking, grape jelly, really?

People will request you make this again. And again. Promise. Eventually, they will just expect it to be at your usual functions.

This post is linked up to some of the parties listed under my Show & Tell tab at the top of the page.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cinnamon Pull-A-Part

My Auntie Les made these for my sisters, cousins and I when I was in high school. They are so good, I asked for the recipe and have been making them since. As with many of the recipes I post, they are so easy! No yeast required - just assemble the night before, bake in the morning and voila!

18 frozen Rhodes rolls
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup instant vanilla jello pudding
2 Tbsp cinnamon, ground
1/2 cup butter, melted

 Grease a 10" bundt pan. Mix sugar, instant pudding and cinnamon in a bowl. Add 9 frozen dough rolls to the bundt pan. Sprinkle just less than half of the dry mixture over the rolls. Add the final 9 frozen dough rolls. Sprinkle the rest of the dry mixture onto the rolls. Melt butter and pour all over rolls. Sometimes I melt a little more than 1/2 cup because I don't feel like I cover all the spots well enough. The dry mixture doesn't all have to have contact with butter. Now cover with a damp cloth and leave out at room temperature to rise.

After waiting at least 8 hours, the rolls will have risen and are ready to bake. (The picture below is of rolls after 11+ hours. Whoops!)

After baking for 22-24 minutes at 350 degrees, the tops should be golden brown, as shown below.

Slide a knife or flat spatula around all edges of the bundt pan and center. Place whatever plate you would like to serve the rolls on, atop of the bundt pan, as shown below. Then flip the bundt pan and the plate together. Be careful because the pan will be hot so you may need to use a towel or oven mitt. The rolls should come out very easily.

Now pull apart your hunk of delciousness, pour a glass of milk and watch your Saturday morning cartoons.

Gooey goodness no one could resist.

This post is linked up to some of the parties listed under my Show & Tell tab at the top of the page.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

A few weeks ago, I signed up at Happy Hour Projects to send a Valentine to a blogger and get one in return. Coincidentally, I was paired up with a blogger I knew, Andie, from Crayon Freckles. In fact, she was the very first blog to feature one of my projects!

Combining a very busy start to February and feeling like I was suffering of crafter's block, my actual card Valentine was the only handmade part of my gift. I framed a piece of work from one of my favorite artists, Katie Daisy and mailed it off...only to leave on an extended weekend vacation and have it returned because, silly goose here, copied Andie's address incorrectly. I mailed it a second time the day before Valentine's Day, which means it did not get there on time. I felt so bad.

I still feel bad because look how awesome Andie's gift was for me! Plus, it arrived right on time.

I absolutely love the colors and time put into it. Not to mention, if I had to pick 3 things to do for the rest of my life, those would be it: eat, pray, love.

Thanks so much, Andie! And so sorry about the tardiness again! Oh, and another thanks to Happy Hour Projects for hosting!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lemony Buddies (Muddy Buddies Modified)

I haven't posted about Book Club the past couple months, mostly because I have been a lame member and not finished the books. Well, we took December off, so I've just missed November, which I finished after the meeting date (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society) and January (Bossypants).

February's book was The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan. I was the one who suggested this book because I really wanted to read it and had bought it at Powell's. This month, I committed the ultimate book club member faux pas by not finishing the book I recommended! The only excuse worth sharing is that I was swept away by a Costco impulse buy, the book Little Princes by Conor Grennan.

To alleviate a little bit of the guilt at our meeting, I made a modified version of the infamously addicting muddy buddies that I saw here. Essentially, the recipe swaps peanut butter and chocolate for lemon juice/zest and white chocolate to coat the Chex mix before powder sugaring the smithereens out of it all.

9 cups Chex mix (1 regular size box of cereal)
1 1/4 cup white vanilla baking chips
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2-4 tsp grated lemon peel (depends on how lemon-y you want it to taste)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 cups powdered sugar
gallon size resealable food storage plastic bag

Measure the cereal into a large bowl. Microwave chips, butter, lemon peel and juice for 1 minute. Stir. Continue to microwave for 20-30 seconds, stirring in between, until smooth. Pour mixture into bowl of cereal and stir until evenly coated. Next, pour the cereal mixture into gallon bag and add powdered sugar. I like to pour a little cereal, then sugar and repeat until it is all layered in the bag to make for a more evened coating.

It really is a tasty switch up from the traditional muddy buddy Chex mix and so easy to make too! Although, Michelle totally outdid me in the food category for book club this month with this Brownie Berry Pizza.

This post is linked up to some of the parties listed under my Show & Tell tab at the top of the page. Go check them out for more inspiration!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling

I completely spaced getting the January Crazy Cooking Challenge of chicken noodle soup, but I wasn't about to pass up February's. Why is that? Oh, only because it is chocolate cake! I just can't wait to see the delicious recipes linked up below!

I knew my favorite food blogger, The Girl Who Ate Everything wouldn't let me down when it came to needing a chocolate cake recipe for this challenge. She posted this recipe which was originally from Kevin and Amanda. I am sure I won't be the only one who posts this particular recipe. I saw it on many of blogs, but there is a reason for that. It is deeeeeelicious, moist and just the right density.

1 box devil’s food cake mix
1 small box Jello instant chocolate pudding mix (not the sugar or fat free kind)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups mini semisweet chocolate chips (I left these out just because I wasn't feeling them)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix everything together, except the chocolate chips. The batter will be thick like pudding. Stir chocolate chips in, if you wish. This will make at least 24 cupcakes. Bake for about 10 minutes longer than whatever the box indicates for whichever pan you use. Stick a toothpick in to check when it's done.

I wanted to have a fun filling so I made  this Browned Butter Cinnamon Cream Cheese frosting from myrecipes, originally from Southern Living. One review said it will taste good on anything, even gym socks. I agree. Well, okay, maybe not quite off gym socks, but really, it would complement pretty much any sort of cake, chocolate, vanilla, carrot, pumpkin, banana, red velvet (like the original recipe shows). I will definitely be using it more.

1/4 cup butter
8 oz cream cheese, softened (make sure you soften it or it will be very hard to mix)
16 oz (2 lbs) powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1 teaspoon vanilla

Brown butter in saucepan over medium heat, constantly stirring for 6-8 minutes. Keep a close eye on it and as soon as it starts to golden, remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge for about a hour, or until the butter begins to solidify. Beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until creamy. Slowly, add powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in cinnamon and vanilla.

I scorched my first attempt at browning butter, even though I browned butter just right for these Brown Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk Toffee Cookies and the Brown Butter Frosting. Just be careful that as soon as the butter starts to brown, you remove it from the heat. There should be no flakes of brown. This means it is starting to burn.

This post is linked up to some of the parties listed under my Show & Tell tab at the top of the page. Go check them out for more inspiration! And of course, check out all the links below for more chocolate cake recipes. Mine's number 35!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Valentine-y Oreo Truffles

The third recipe I meant to share before Christmas was for these oreo truffles. However, these are appropriate for a little Valentine's Day sweet for you and your significant other, or even as a classroom treat.

The awesome thing is, you only need 3 ingredients. Ready, go!

Oreos (regular 16 oz. package) -- Christmas red seasonal cookies were used to get the red specks
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. chocolate chips, for dipping

Crush the cookies finely, with a food processor or rolling pin. Set aside about a 1/4 cup of crushed cookies. Combine cookies and cream cheese. Roll into balls. Melt chocolate and dip balls. Sprinkle 1/4 cup reserved crushed cookie over chocolate covered balls. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

By the way, these are super rich. I'm a sweetaholic and I can barely finish one in a setting. Okay, barely may be an exaggeration, but one is plenty for me.

You want a bite, right?

This post is linked up to some of the parties listed under my Show & Tell tab at the top of the page. Go check them out for more inspiration!   

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Speechless Sunday: Greetings from Louisiana


We spent yesterday in New Orleans where we were caught up in a rainstorm, making for a wet walk around the French Quarter. However, Cafe du Monde beignets did not disappoint.
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