Thursday, December 18, 2014

Homemade Potpourri Gift Bags





This is an incredible smelling stovetop potpourri perfect for the holidays.  I usuually have cinnamon sticks on hand to simmer with similar spices, but I LOVED the addition of the orange and cranberries.
Bagging up the contents (without the water, of course) and including a cute tag with instructions for use makes a great neighbor, co-worker, friend gift for the holidays, too!

1 orange
4 cinnamon sticks
1/2 C fresh cranberries
1 TBSP whole cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Quarter or slice the orange.
Place all ingredients into a small saucepan.
Fill the pan with just enough water so that all of the ingredients are covered.
Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat so the potpourri simmers.
Add more water as necessary.
I keep mine on the stove for about a week (the orange starts to not look too pretty anymore, but it is still fulfilling its purpose of making my house smell amazing!) and keep adding water as needed.

This is slightly adapted from www.iheartnaptime.net.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

One Pan Parmesan Noodles




I cannot say enough good things about this pasta dish.  It is easy, creamy, and pairs well with so many different things.  Our favorite way to enjoy it is with grilled, salt/peppered chicken strips and veggies.  It would make a fantastic side dish as well if you were to eliminate the protein and serve it with another main entree.

This recipe makes 2-4 servings.

1 TBSP olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 C chicken broth
1 C + extra as needed milk (I use 2%)
8 oz. uncooked fettuccine or spaghetti noodles
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
1 TBSP dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat.
Stir in the garlic and keep stirring for 1-2 minutes.
Add the chicken broth, 1 C milk, noodles, and salt and pepper.
Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer the noodles until they are cooked through.  It will take about 18-20 minutes.
Stir in the Parmesan cheese and add enough milk to get the desired sauce consistency.  Salt and pepper to taste again if it is needed.
Stir in the parsley.
Serve warm as a side dish or as a part of a main dish with a protein or veggies.

This recipe is adapted from damndelicious.net.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mickey Mouse Cupcakes




I have seen ideas like this floating around and decided for my son's birthday to make cute little Micky Mouse cupcakes that he could share with his cousins!

I used my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe and made cream cheese buttercream frosting and topped each cupcake with Oreo cookie ears.  The icing is swirled on with a basic icing tip (really...any tip will do - the consistency of the icing is what is important...it has to be stiff enough to hold up but soft enough to swirl) and after I placed the ears in the icing, I put the cupcakes in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to help keep the cookies in place for serving.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Monster Cookies




I've seen (and pinned) so many monster cookie recipes lately, but have never made them myself.  I love oat based cookies but only like just the right peanut butter cookie so I wasn't sure if I would be a true lover of these cookies.  However, these cookies, warm out of the oven with a big glass of milk were amazing (but crumbly...cooling the cookies is what keeps them together).

This recipe makes 3-4 dozen cookies.

3 large eggs
1 1/4 C brown sugar
1 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 C creamy peanut butter
1/2 C butter, softened
1 C M&M's
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tsp baking soda
4 1/2 C oats

Preheat the oven to 350.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cream together the eggs and sugars.
Add the salt, peanut butter, and butter.
Mix in the M&M's, chocolate chips, baking soda, and oats.
Roll the cookie dough into small balls (mine were 1-2 TBSP) and place them a couple inches apart on the pan.
Bake for 7-10 minutes - you definitely don't want to over bake these cookies so take them out when the edges just start to turn golden and they are starting to set.
Let them cool on the pan (a very important step to having non-crumbled cookies) for 1-2 minutes and them carefully place them on a wire rack to finish cooling.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container.

This recipe is from www.melskitchencafe.com.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Crockpot Black Bean Chicken



This is a tasty and healthy chicken dish that is so easy to prepare.  The chicken is versatile and can be used for salads, tacos, nachos, or eaten straight with a fork.  It has become a regular in our house.


2 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 C salsa
1 TBSP taco seasoning
1/2 tsp cumin

Place the chicken in the crock pot and sprinkle the taco seasoning and cumin on top.
Cover the chicken with the beans and salsa.
Cook the chicken on low for 4 hours (until it shreds nicely with a fork).
Serve warm over lettuce or tortillas with your choice of toppings.

This recipe is from www.skinnytaste.com.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Crockpot Creamy Potatoes



If you have read this blog for a while or you know me well in person, you know I hate potatoes.  Not just hate, but abhor, can't-stand, they-literally-make-me-gag, can't-eat-them-unless-they-are-skinny-and-really-crispy-french-fries, type of hate them.
This is not just some preconceived notion either.  I tried them again during adulthood and my gag reflex went off and I almost vomited all over a friend's house.  Really.  I am not exaggerating.
So when my sister-in-law made these potatoes, I was ready to just write them off as something I wasn't going to eat for fear of making a mess on her kitchen floor.  Nonetheless, I tried them anyway.  And I liked them.
WHAT?!
Yes, I liked them.
Now, they are not my usual, healthy choice of of a side dish but if someone got me to eat potatoes, I see nothing wrong with a slightly (well...really) indulgent recipe for special potato occasions!


This recipe will serve 4-6.

1 can of cream of celery soup
1 can of cream of chicken soup
(you can use 2 cans of cream of chicken instead of one of each if you want)
8 oz. sour cream
1 1/2 lbs grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 small container of bacon bits
1 C milk
2 lbs. frozen, cubed hash brown potatoes
1 medium onion, finely chopped

In a large bowl, combine the creamy soups, sour cream, cheese, bacon bits, and milk.
Stir in the potatoes and onion.
Bake in a crockpot for 4-5 hours on low (or about 3 hours on high) or....
Or lightly grease a 9"x13" baking dish and bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours.

This recipe is from my sister-in-law's family.

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