Showing posts with label recipe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recipe. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sweet and Salty


It's true. Call the presses. I'm trying to eat more healthy. And that is the reason for my posts today. So, instead of treating myself at the end of a long day with ice cream or cookies, I've been treating myself with strawberries. We are blessed to live near some farms, so there's a guy with a small stand (okay the back of his truck) that sells flats of freshly picked strawberries.

I love eating them just yummy. But lots of strawberries means...lots of strawberry baskets. I feel bad throwing these things away...I'm sure I can do something useful with them. So much to my hubbie's chagrin, I saved a few. I found some mini binder clips (and if you're looking for a post solely about binder clips, click here) and decided to attach all the strawberry baskets together. I then found a few different ways I could use them.
You can use it as an organizer for craft time with the kids!

We made a game. They had three tries and they tried to get the most points. This version helped with their adding of fractions.
Other Games:
-Put letters on the papers at the bottom and when your ball lands on a letter, you have to say a word that starts with that letter, but no repeats.
-If you have a deck of cards, you can give each person a different suit and you can try throwing your cards in the baskets to see who gets the most points.
-If you lead the kids music at church, a song can be under each of the papers and the kids can try to throw a bean bag in there.

Anyway, you get the idea.

Because of previously stated attempt at eating healthier, I discovered that you can make your own potato chips in the microwave. You probably already knew this...but I didn't and I love potato chips so I love this.

With a mandolin slicer, thinly slice the potato.
Kinda' like so
Then with the olive oil cooking spray, lightly coat the potato slices and the microwaveable plate. Place slices on plate.
Microwave for 3 minutes first, check on them. They should be like this, lightly brown. I cooked these for a total of 6 minutes. Make sure you use hot pads to take that plate out of the microwave.
Then lightly sprinkle on your favorite flavor. I love this salt. It's so tasty! I think you can see the phone number on the bottle if you want to order. The shop is owned by a friend of a friend who is so nice. They have so many yummy spices there and the prices are so reasonable. It's better to call than go online because she gives you a ton of cooking ideas.
I like to put mine on a cookie rack to cool and crisp. Plus, I'm using the plate to make the rest of my chips.
There you have it! The Sweet and Salty of my healthier eating.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Memories...Light the Corners of My Mind

It always seems this time of year brings on nostalgia...

A great childhood brings even better memories. And I am thankful to say that my childhood was everything I hope my children will experience!

My dad was often busy between his job and church service. Because of this, he always made sure to build in those bonding moments with the six of us. And they say the kitchen is what brings families together. He always made breakfast for us on Saturday mornings (still does when I go home to visit). We're talking pancakes, waffles, and our personal favorite Norwegian pancakes. One of the other things he would do is make dessert on Sunday evenings. There were always two family favorites: Tapioca pudding and Carmel popcorn.

This New Years Eve was the first time the hubs and I decided to stay home and begin our own family traditions. There were personal pizzas, milkshakes, movies, and a puzzle that we obsessed with for 3 days. Seriously, we just finished it. But one of the things I decided to do with my kids is to make carmel popcorn. And as I poured the carmel over the popcorn, I was taken back to my childhood watching my dad do this same thing. And I remember keeping my eye on the parts that were drowning in carmel in hopes that I could be the lucky recipient.

So I'm sharing the recipe that I take no credit for but simply sharing a tried a true with you.

Freshly popped popcorn
1 stick of butter
2 cups of brown sugar
1 cup of Karo syrup
1 can of Eagle Brand milk

Pop your popcorn first. My sister swears by her Whirley Pop. "It makes the best popcorn!" That's a direct quote. I used a microwave bowl that I got at Target for popping corn. It did the job.

On a stove top, bring butter, brown sugar and Karo to a boil. Add in the milk. Stir constantly while bringing it back to a boil. Pour over popcorn. Mix it all up.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Some gift ideas, Christmas Card Display & a Yummy Treat

The count-down to Christmas is so exciting. Christmas cards - check, gingerbread houses - check, rearranging the ornaments on the tree after the kids go to bed - check, Christmas shopping - check...oh wait, what about those neighborhood and office gifts. Yikes!

There are so many people and we budgets are tight this year. Even baking and making treats are pretty expensive activities. So I'm going to share some quick and inexpensive Holiday gifts I've done accompanied by a suggestion of copy for the gift tag. Scroll down and you can see my new way of displaying our Christmas cards and don't forget to get all the way down for a fabulous yummy treat my friend gave me the recipe for after I pretty much inhaled her dessert.

1. Hand soap. One year I made foaming handsoap which is so easy. You buy a foaming pump dispenser from here or someplace like that supply store. You buy a scented soap base and fill the dispenser about 1/3 of the way and then fill the rest with water.  I don't have a picture...although I think one of my co-workers still has it on her desk from last year, but you get the idea. Or you can just buy a soap from the dollar store and attach this to it :

‘Tis the season for family and friends,
And your to-do list that never ends.
‘Tis the season of kisses and hugs,
And those viruses, bacteria and bugs.
So as you spread goodwill toward man(s)
Don’t forget to wash your hands!

2.  Door bell or star. These cute antique door bells are on sale at Michael's right now for only $.64. Then you take ribbon you bought at after-Christmas sales from last year and just make a pretty bow.

The Holidays are here - what a celebration,
Except sometimes they're full of stress & frustration.
So here's a little bell (or star) to hang on your door
To remind you again what the 25th is for.
As you open your home and hear this bell (or star) of tin,
Let the real spirit of Christmas come and enter in.

(Just letting some of my friends know that I dibs this this year. Some of you may be getting this.)

3. Home spray infused with essential oils. You can see the tutorial here. I think that was my very first post. I just wrote on the card:

Infused with Lavender & Chamomile, this spray helps calm the soul, allowing you to enjoy friends, family and the coming of the New Year.

We've always just taped our Christmas cards to the wall every year, but then the kids got carried away the tape or the cards wouldn't stay on the wall and then our friends would come over on the day their card fell off the embarrassing. Anyway, this year we decided to make use of the blinds that always stay closed and some clothes pins.  I found a bag of many snowflakes at Michaels for $2.49 and glued them to the cloths pins I found for $1.49 at Walmart. And then we just clipped the cards to the blinds. It looks really cute.

YUMMY PEPPERMINT PIE (or cake...whatever) 
1/4 cup butter
1 pkg oreos (crushed)
Container of Peppermint Ice Cream
Hot Fudge
Container of Cool Whip
Crushed up peppermint candy
9x13 pan

Crush the oreos and mix with butter and press into pan making an oreo cookie crust. Keep about 4 Tablespoons of crumbs to decorate the top.

Take your softened container of peppermint ice cream and spread over oreo cookie crust and smooth the top.

Drizzle hot fudge all over the peppermint ice cream.

Spread softened cool whip all over the hot fudge and ice cream. Then top with left over oreo cookie crumbs and crushed peppermint. Put in the freezer for a few hours to harden. Serve and then MOVE OUT THE WAY, because people are going to be knockin' you down to have a treat.

I hope your Christmas and Holiday season is filled with joy and love with minimal stress! :)
Sew Much Ado
Someday Crafts 
Blue Cricket Design 
The Trendy Treehouse 
Hope Studios 
Paisley Passion 
Allie Makes

Friday, November 19, 2010


This week's post idea has had me in a predicament. I want to share my Sweet Potato Casserole recipe but I didn't want to make it just for the pictures, feed it to my family and then make it two more times on Thanksgiving Day for my in-laws and my side of the family. That's overkill in the yam department!

So I've decided to share it sans pictures. I want you to have it pre-Turkey Day. It's the dish that I'm asked to bring every year for the past eight or so years. It's that good! It's a conglomeration of several recipes that I've tried over time.


Sweet Potato Casserole

4 cups cooked sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
(or 2, 29 oz cans drained of syrup)
1 cup white sugar
4 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 c evaporated milk
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup flaked coconut

1 1/2 cup crushed cornflake cereal
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecan
3/4 cup butter, melted

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 9/13 casserole dish.
  • In a large bowl, using a mixer, mash the sweet potatoes and mix in the sugar, beaten eggs, 3/4 cup melted butter, evaporated milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, marshmallows and coconut. Scoop the mixture into prepared casserole dish.
  • Bake 35 minutes or until sweet potatoes are slightly firm (like a cheesecake.)
  • In a small bowl, mix all topping ingredients. Spread over top of baked casserole.
  • Return casserole to oven and bake additional 10 minutes.

Now I know there are a lot of people questioning the addition of coconut. Believe's fine. It adds additional texture and sweetness. A lot of people don't even notice it. But if it totally grosses you out, leave it out. Should be fine. But don't tell anyone you got the recipe from me. I don't want my name attached to a casserole that is "fine." ;-)

Also, because of nut allergies, I usually omit the pecans from the topping. I don't need a bunch of puffy-tongued family members trying to enjoy their turkey! Tastes great with just the cornflakes as well!

And because I can't stand to have such a naked blog post, I borrowed the pic below from Flickr until I can come back and add my own pics.....

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Raspberry Bread Pudding

Seriously! Trying to blog this week has basically taken a miracle. Well, you all know about the move, right...and I hate to use it as an excuse for another week...but it's killing me. Right now we have no internet in the house as we wait for AT&T to take their sweet time transferring service from one home to another. For some no internet in the house is no big deal, but not to this family. My husband is a computer guy and this mommy blogger is finding it a real inconvenience.

Long story short, I'm writing this late on Wednesday. I had a whole bunch of fun ideas in my head for Thanksgiving (sorry Halloween for moving on) but none of them came fully together. So next week should be better. But this week there has been only one thing on my mind, Raspberry Bread Pudding (ala Kneaders for those of you in Utah). Maybe because it's been kind of chilly here (high 60's...I know, my Southern Californian-ness is annoying sometimes) or maybe because I've been needing some comfort food, but the tangy taste of raspberries and the crunchy crustiness of the pudding kept calling my name. So last night I made some for my family for breakfast and for a treat for the office.

I got this recipe from my friend Becca (Shout-OUT) and it's a hit every time. Today in the office 15 people tried it and 12 people asked me for the recipe. I told them it would be on my blog....sometime today.

So here is the recipe:

Berry Bread pudding

1 loaf of French Bread (15 oz)
2 cups of frozen berries

4 large eggs
2 ¾ c milk
1 c sugar
¼ c butter melted
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
dash of salt
1 tsp vanilla

Cube bread.
Place berries on top
Whisk together rest of ingredients and pour over berries and bread
Let soak for 20 min.
Bake covered in 350 oven for 30 minutes.
Uncover and bake for 30 more minutes.

2 c whipping cream (I use half and half to make it lighter)
1 c sugar
2 Tbsp flour
½ c butter
1 tsp vanilla
dash salt

1st mix sugar and flour together. Then add the rest of ingredients except vanilla. Bring to boil, boil 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Doesn't it look yummy. It's so good. I love nutmeg. Sometimes I add a little extra nutmeg just for myself. I love this recipe because the crusty french bread is crispy but is balanced by the pudding part. It's a fun explosion in my mouth.

So for those of you who were looking forward to one more Halloween thing, let me show you what the hubby did for scouts.

Aren't these great and the kids loved them, too.  He just got white chocolate chips (I told him the melty chips at the craft store are easier to work with because you can just microwave it and not worry about the double broiler) and dipped donut holes in it. Before it hardened he put a chocolate chip in the middle. After the "eyeball" hardens, take some food coloring and color the left over chocolate red and scoop it into a sandwich bag. Cut a tiny hole in the corner and squeeze the red chocolate on the eyeball creating the tired-look (they look like my eyeballs!!!).  And there you have it. Another quick Halloween treat!  Happy Halloween.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

If you watch Oprah enough you may have noticed that a question she always asks during celebrity interviews is, "What do you know for sure?" I've often thought about what I'd say if I sat face with Ms. Winfrey and she asked me that revealing, soul searching question. Well folks today I have an answer. What I know for sure is that when it's cold outside, people like to eat soup! Simple but true! So I've decided to kick off Autumn with one of my favorite, most requested soup recipes.

I am a big fan of the Chicken Tortilla Soup at The California Pizza Kitchen. Love that stuff! One day I attempted to make it at home. And like most attempts to copy restaurant recipes, it wasn't quite right. So I decided to leave it to CPK to make that soup and began a search for my own simple, hearty, tasty Tortilla Soup recipe. And so, my friends, after many trials and many combinations of recipes. I finally created....

Melissa's Not-Famous-Yet Chicken Tortilla Soup

Here are some of the highlights of the preparation (the full recipe is at the bottom of this post.)

Another thing I know for sure is that you will need a can opener!

The tool that you're going to need if you want a creamy soup is a hand blender. I absolutely LOVE the one I have because it chops as well! I used it to chop the garlic and onions.

My three most favorite things: Olive oil, onions and garlic! Don't you wish you had a
scratch-n-sniff screen?!
Now if you're thinking, "My kids/husband/significant other won't eat onions" Don't worry! You're going to puree this and they won't even know!

The pureeing part is fun! I'm pouring the flour/water mixture out of the tomato sauce can. Saves me from having another dirty dish and it gets the bits of tomato that are stuck to the bottom. Clever...I know!

Ahhh...smooth and creamy!

The recipe says "2 cups" of chicken but I boiled four small breasts and ended up having about 3 cups of shredded chicken. No biggy!

And after the last step of adding sour cream, the only chunks in your soup should be the chicken, corn and beans (You certainly can omit the beans if you are a non bean eating family!)

Oh la la! So good!

Melissa's Not-Famous-Yet Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • 1 cup Chopped Onion
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive (or Vegetable) Oil
  • 1 can (4 Oz. Can) Chopped Green Chilies
  • 1 can (15 Oz. Can) Italian-style Diced Tomatoes And Juice
  • 1 can (8 Oz. Can) Tomato Sauce
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • ½ teaspoons Hot Sauce (optional)
  • 4 Tablespoons Flour
  • ½ cups Water
  • 2 cups Cooked Chicken, Shredded or Cubed
  • 1 can (11 Oz. Can) Shoepeg Corn (aka White Sweet Corn), Drained
  • 1 can (15.25 Oz Can) Navy Beans, Drained And Rinsed
  • ½ cups Sour Cream
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan, saute onion and garlic in the oil over low heat for 5 minutes or until onion is softened.

Add green chilies, tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth, lemon pepper, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cumin and hot sauce.

Simmer for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the flour with the water and incorporate into the soup using a hand blender for approximately 2 minutes.

Bring the soup back to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add chicken, corn and beans.

Simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in sour cream, salt, and pepper to taste.

Top with some shredded Jack, garnish with tortilla chips and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Face Lifts and Falsies

Nice title, right? Let me explain. As you can see, we gave our little blog a slight overhaul...a face-lift if you will. We really hope you like it. It makes us feel all grown up to have a custom face and we really like the birdie.

Soon we're going to have our own buttons, a little ad space for you self-employed-crafty-types, and we're even going to have give-a-ways. So stay tuned! There are exciting things happening in The Idea Attic. We're even toying with a blogger challenge, were you guys challenge the three of us to think of ideas using a specific material, or for a special event. That should be our own little reality show. All this is coming once us moms can find a spare moment to collect our thoughts.

So I explained the Face Lift part...let me explain the falsies. Last night my husband turns to me and says, "Oh, I forgot, (our son) needs a cake for the cub scout cake auction tomorrow. Can you whip up something fun?" NICE...I set out trying to find something fun. So I quickly threw this together. What do you think?

I promise that this was a really easy cake to make. In fact here is the link to the instructions I found on the Family Fun website (click here for step-by-step instructions). I think it's pretty clear that they used a store-bought pound cake and if I was thinking clearly in the store, I might have done the same. But I only purchased the twinkies, the sour patch kids (for the relish) and some white frosting (I already had food coloring) and didn't want to run to the store again.

So for those of you who do not want to buy a pound cake, or got scared off by all the butter and eggs of pound cake recipe, here's the recipe I used and it was yummy. I call it a half-pound cake. I like this recipe because it perfectly fits in a loaf pan.

2/3 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. flavoring extract (I used vanilla...but lemon might be yummy, too)
2 eggs, beaten
1 2/3 c. enriched flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. milk
Cream butter, sugar, and flavoring together until light; beat the eggs and add to mixture. Sift flour, salt, and baking powder together; add alternately with the milk. Beat 1/2 minute or about 30 strokes. Bake in an oiled and floured loaf-cake pan 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees.

The hardest part of this cake is getting the frosting to look like a hot dog, mustard and ketchup. So I tried to keep track of what I used with the frosting.  I divided one container of frosting in three sections. I actually didn't need that much "mustard" and "ketchup" but oh well.

For the hot dog color  - 6 drops of red, 3 drops of yellow and 1 drop of green.

For the mustard - Just a lot of yellow and one drop of red.

For the ketchup - I ended up using A LOT of red, then yellow and green. Basically, it was a darker version of the hot dog color. I kept adding red and then a small amount of green to make the red darker.

Another tip is I frosted the twinkies before I placed them in the "bun" and I lifted them off the cutting board with a long knife and placed it in the "bun" that way. To make it look even more real, I took a butter knife and carved the wrinkles in the end of the hot dog.

And lastly, I used coffee filters, left over from our coffee filter flowers, to place under the hot dog and french fries so it looked extra real.

Hopefully you did not notice that I burned the "fries" by accident...they don't need to broil very long.

There you have it...the falsie! It really was one of the easiest cakes ever. I think it was even easier than frosting a regular cake. Shhhhh...people will just think you're a genius.

BWS tips buttonBCD 125

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Back to School Morning Rush

Okay, school started for us last week. I love that the kids are mentally engaged again. I love not having to write out their summer "to do" lists everyday. I love that during school we're back on a schedule. I, however, DO NOT LOVE the fight to get to bed early, the fight to wake up, the fight to get dressed, teeth brushed, hair done, (let's not even talk about if they need to take a shower in the morning). I DO NOT love having to make their lunches or having to fight with them to eat breakfast.

This year I decided to do something that might make my mornings a little easier. I don't have all the answers, but I'm trying some new things and so far it's working out.

I'm making them make their own lunches. I instructed them that it should include:
1. a main dish - i told them it could be PB&J, last night's dinner, a wrap, cheese and crackers, etc.
2. a fruit or 2 - we have strawberries, grapes, apples, oranges, peaches, etc. to choose from
3. a chip or salty snack - we buy a variety of these
4. a drink - usually their water bottle
5. And a snack for snack time - this can be a string cheese or my son's favorite, korean seaweed!!!

And because I know my kids are always running late, I decided to make homemade granola bars for breakfast on the go. They can literally eat breakfast while walking to school. I searched for a long time for a recipe that I thought was rather healthy.  I ended up merging a couple because I liked aspects of like three different recipes.

3 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup sunflower seeds (I like salted because the salty balances the sweet...only okay in this circumstance, click here to see my usual view on sweet and salty mixed)
1 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup wheat germ
3/4 cup peanuts, broken up but not crushed (salty peanuts could work, too)
1/2 cup flax seed (I love finding little flax seeds in my teeth a few minutes after eating)

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 tbsp butter
2/3 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla extract

Optional: 1/2 cup of either raisins, craisins, other dried fruit or shredded coconut or mini chocolate chips (we like dark chocolate)....or a combination of things (i.e 1/2 cup of raisins and 1/2 cup of butterscotch chips...mmmm)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or Pam a 9x13 pan.

Mix oatmeal, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, almonds, peanuts and flax seed on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and pour into mixing bowl.

Reduce oven heat to 300 degrees F.

Put honey, brown sugar, butter, vanilla and salt in a small pot and bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for about a minute. Then pour over oat and nut mixture in mixing bowl.  Add optional ingredients now. NOTE: I have not yet figured out how to make sure the chocolate doesn't melt...but I'll have to take a look.

Pour mixture into prepared 9x13. Using wax paper, lightly press the mixture into the pan, evenly. Bake this for 25 to 30 minutes.  Make sure that you allow the mixture to completely cool before you cut, or it will be crumbly.

I used two small pans for this batch

I cut them in chunks and wrap them in plastic wrap. I've thrown a couple in the fridge to make them cold.

The kids LOVE them. And it cuts out the breakfast fight.  I'm going to experiment with different things inside like cashews, macadamias, cut up dried mango, m&m's, sprinkles, agave instead of honey, canola oil instead of butter.

I'd love to know if you have a favorite granola bar recipe or your tips and tricks to making the morning smoother. I could use any help you have.

Don't you love it when on the way out the door your son says, "Oh, mom, I need a picture of when I was a baby."
"Really, by when?"
ARGHHHHHH - well, that's coming from the kid that got Student of the Month and detention on the same day last year.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Tomatoes and Garlic and Basil, Oh my!!

Tis the season for tomatoes! I love this time of year. To me there is absolutely nothing better to eat than a homegrown tomato still warm from the sun! But here's where I'll make a confession: I've never actually grown any tomatoes. My husband and I tried once. Our plant thrived until some sly critters enjoyed the fruits of our labor. Our house backs up to a wooded area so the wildlife sometimes gets to enjoy our yard more than we do. But never fear...I have friends and family that are successful gardeners! (image courtesy of flickr.)

My good friend, Mari, has had an amazing crop of Roma tomatoes this year as well as a lot of basil. And like good friends with gardens do, she shared them with me. While I'm happy just eating the tomatoes as is, sprinkled with a little sea salt, I decided to try something I've had at various parties and something I see a lot of in magazines and cooking shows when tomatoes are in season:

Roasted Tomatoes with Basil and Garlic.

I made sure I had:

roma tomatoes
fresh basil
a head of garlic
olive oil
kosher salt
crackers or chips
cheese of your choice

(and a kid who must sample everything.)

I sliced the tomatoes lengthwise. Here's where I have to put in a plug for the Pampered Chef tomato knife. No...I'm not a consultant trying to make a sale. I just think that this knife is really awesome!

After preheating the oven to 275, I got out my extra large casserole dish.
I laid out the tomatoes,
threw in a handful of basil leaves and
scattered a head of whole garlic cloves.
I sprinkled everything liberally with kosher salt
and gave it all a few grinds of pepper.
Lastly I drizzled it all with olive and tossed it around to make sure everything was evenly coated.

Now here's where I change things from most of the recipes I found online. Instead of leaving it uncovered, letting everything get caramelize and chewy, I covered the pan with foil.

And the slow roast begins. Let this baby simmer for 5 to 6 hours on low heat, 250 or 275 F.

And here's what you get. Not quite as pretty as the "before" picture but believe me when I tell you what it's lacking in appearance will definitely be made up in taste!

Now get yourself some toast points, pita chips, bagel chips or make your own crostini.
Layer some mozzarella (or goat cheese would be good too), a roasted tomato and a clove of garlic and go for it!
Crazy delicious!
The roasting makes the tomatoes so incredibly sweet!

Enjoy!! I think I'll go have some more....