Archive | March, 2012

In honor of Oreo’s 100th Birthday

30 Mar

If you'd like to celebrate right along with Oreo in honor of their 100th birthday, I highly recommend these Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Can you find the Oreo Cookies in this picture?

I bet you can’t, they’re hiding INSIDE the cookies!

Last year I posted this recipe on Facebook after seeing it in a Macaroni Kids newsletter that I get in my inbox each week. From what I read, they got it from a blog too, so I have included that in the recipe information as well.

I made these several times last year, including as an End of Year gift for our kids’ teachers and for a birthday gift for my sister-inlaw.

They are SO delicious but each one is like eating THREE cookies, just so you know.

Here is the recipe for you. It’s easy and makes about 25 cookies.

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

INGREDIENTS

2 sticks softened butter

3/4 Cup packed light brown sugar

1 Cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 Tablespoon pure vanilla

3 1/2 Cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

10 oz bag chocolate chips

1 bag Oreo Cookies

DIRECTIONS

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.   In a stand or electric mixer cream butter and sugars until well combined.  Add in eggs and vanilla until well combined.

2.  In a separate bowl mix the flour, salt and baking soda.  Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips until just combined.  Using a cookie scoop take one scoop of cookie dough and place on top of an Oreo Cookie.  Take another scoop of dough and place on bottom of Oreo Cookie.  Seal edges together by pressing and cupping in hand until Oreo Cookie is enclosed with dough.  Place onto a baking sheet and bake cookies 9-13 minutes or until cookies are baked to your liking.  Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.  Serve with a tall glass of milk, enjoy!

Makes about 2 dozen VERY LARGE Cookies

Please visit Jenny’s blog at picky-palate.com

Another new recipe!

29 Mar

I love anything with balsamic vinegar, so I thought this recipe was worth trying.

I get daily recipe emails from a few different places. One of them is Allrecipes.com, whose website I frequent. This one sounded good and I love anything with balsamic vinegar, so I decided to try it. It’s one reason I bought so many cans of diced tomatoes last time they were on sale. I had several recipes calling for them and this was one of them.

Overall, I think everyone liked it. We served it with whole wheat spaghetti, so anyone who didn’t like the chicken could have pasta and the tomatoes were big enough that they could be picked out if anyone didn’t like those. I liked the whole thing and I think I’d make it again.

BRAISED BALSAMIC CHICKEN

INGREDIENTS

6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (I used about 10-12 tenderloins instead.)

ground black pepper to taste

1 tsp garlic salt

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced (I chopped rather than sliced.)

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (I ran out and only had 1/4 cup but I think 1/2 would have been too strong.)

one 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried rosemary

1/2 tsp dried thyme

DIRECTIONS

1. Season chicken breasts with ground black pepper and garlic salt. Heat olive oil in medium skillet and brown the onion and seasoned chicken breasts.

2. Pour tomatoes and balsamic vinegar over chicken and season with basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme.

3. Simmer until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear, about 15 minutes.

We served ours on a bed of whole wheat pasta, which worked out great!

It was like a crepe buffet!

28 Mar

Having apple cinnamon crepes for breakfast is like having apple pie for breakfast.

Is there such a thing as a crepe buffet? If not, then I think we invented one. If so, then I think we had one at our house too.

Two Sundays ago, Don asked me the fateful question: What do you want for breakfast today?

Now had he asked me, “What are we having for breakfast today,” maybe my answer would have been different, like “Scrambled Eggs” or “French Toast” or whatever we usually have for a typical breakfast on the weekends.

What I wanted, what I was craving, was Nutella Banana Crepes.

But on that day he asked me what I *wanted* for breakfast. Well what I wanted was crepes with bananas and Nutella in them. Yup, ever since National Nutella Week, when I saw them somewhere on some yummy food blog out there, I have been craving that very item. So when he asked, that was my answer.

“I want crepes with bananas and Nutella in them.”

His answer: “WHAT????”

We went back and forth for a bit, as in, “I’m not making that,” and “Fine, I’ll make it,” to “No, fine, I’ll make it.”

The kids were having fun garnishing their plates with whatever we had on hand that day.

It was settled. We were having crepes for breakfast. I was SO excited. The kids were excited too, when they heard.

Don found a recipe on Allrecipes.com for Basic Crepes that he followed to a “t” with one exception, which I’ll note later on when I post the recipe.

I cut up some apples to saute, as we decided to make a whole bunch of different kinds of crepes: the banana Nutella as requested, some apple cinnamon, some scrambled egg with ham, and some with just egg and cheese.

It was a regular ole’ crepe buffet at our house that morning!

There’s a commercial on TV now, I don’t even know what it’s for, come to think of it, but it has couples being asked “what’s the most romantic thing he’s done for you lately?” It’s a very funny commercial, and I thought of it that morning as Don handed me a crepe on a plate, just for me: a chocolate peanut butter crepe. There was just one, and I could’ve easily polished it off myself, but I shared.

Yes, I shared my peanut butter and chocolate chip crepe with my kids!

I know, that’s big for me, sharing my food.

I cut off some pieces for each of the girls and I ate what was left.

It.Was.Delicious.

And so, that is the story of how we very possibly invented, or not, a crepes buffet at our house that day. It was so successful that our kids now want to have that for breakfast EVERY Sunday.

Ooops.

Basic Crepes Recipe from AllRecipes.com

It was crazy-busy in Don's Kitchen that morning as he prepared all kinds of crepe varieties for us!

INGREDIENTS

(we doubled this recipe)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth. *This is where we changed the recipe. Mix all the wet ingredients together first and all the dry ingredients together and then combine them and whisk. The very first comment alludes to the same fact.
  2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.
  3. Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side. Serve hot.

    A crepe buffet...who would've thought?

New recipe, new product review

27 Mar

The Weelicious oatmeal recipe for the crock pot is one of our favorites.

Back in January I posted the recipe for the Weelicious Overnight Crock Pot Oatmeal and said how much my family enjoys it. One of my gripes about it though, is that as delicious as it is, it makes a thick “skin” on the inside of the crock pot, which takes forever to clean. Normally I have to soak and scrub, soak and scrub.

I found the idea of the slow cooker liners intriguing.

Therefore, I was intrigued when I saw a coupon for Reynold’s Slow Cooker Liners back in early March. I decided that since I had the coupon and since I use my crock pot kind of a lot, they’d be worth trying out and I could decide at that point if they were worth buying again. The cost at Shaw’s was $3.99 for four liners and I had $1.00 off.

Around the same time, I discovered a new Overnight Slow Cooker Apple-Cinnamon Steel Cut Oatmeal on Pinterest, which was originally from Monica at The Yummy Life blog. I decided to try the recipe and the liners at the same time.

The recipe was indeed “yummy” as the title of her blog implies! It was very similar to the Weelicious one but it had brown sugar and butter that were extras. I always add apples to my Weelicious recipe, but they were in this new one too. I also noticed she had two other overnight oatmeal recipes on there. I might check them out in the future too.

As for the liner, it was okay. I opened the box and found the instructions, which say:

1) Open the slow cooker liner and place it inside the slow cooker bowl. Fit the liner snugly against the bottom and sides of the bowl; pull top of liner over rim of bowl.

2) place ingredients in lined slow cooker first, then turn on slow cooker. Place lid on slow cooker. Cook according to recipe.

3) Carefully remove lid to allow steam to escape. Serve meal directly from lined slow cooker.

4) Cool slow cooker completely; remove liner and toss.

The illustrations show a sparkling clean slow cooker at the end.

I followed the directions and had no problems using the liner. It fit inside my slow cooker easily and the cover went on without a problem.

All ingredients ready to go.

In the morning we ate our oatmeal as usual and I followed the directions, serving it right out of the container. I was worried that the plastic might tear when I was scraping the spoon against the sides to serve it, but it didn’t rip.

The "after" photo, after the liner had been removed. Not as clean as I'd expected but not as bad as without.

I let the crock pot cool completely before pulling out the liner. I was surprised to find that the crock pot wasn’t as clean as I’d expected it to be, based on the illustrations in the directions from the box. However, it also wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it would be without the liner and it was much easier to clean.

Overall, the jury is still out as to whether or not I’d buy these again. I think it will depend on how the liners do with our other recipes. I do think the cleanup was much easier though, so we’ll see how it does with something like “gravy” or BBQ Beef. Those can be super-messy and that might be the true test for me.

Here is Monica’s recipe for the oatmeal. I also like that she included the Weight Watcher’s Points at the bottom.

The magic of the crock pot: it cooks while you sleep. I love coming out in the morning and having breakfast already done, especially on a school day.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2-1/2 to 3 cups chopped)
  • 1-1/2 cups fat-free milk (I had 1%)
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked steel-cut oats
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into 5-6 pieces (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed (I don’t have flax seed so I skipped this one.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Optional garnishes: chopped nuts, raisins, maple syrup, additional milk or butter

DIRECTIONS

Coat inside of 3-1/2 quart (or larger) slow cooker with cooking spray (I used the liner instead). Add all ingredients (except optional toppings) to slow cooker. Stir, cover, and cook on low for 7 hours. Spoon oatmeal into bowls; add optional toppings, if desired. Store leftovers in refrigerator. Freezes well.

To reheat single servings: Put 1-cup cooked oatmeal in microwave proof bowl. Add 1/3 cup fat-free milk. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir. Continue cooking for another minute, or until hot.

Recipe can be doubled in 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Increase cooking time 1 hour. I doubled mine and cooked it from 10 pm to 8 am.

Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 4 pts per 3/4 cup serving

How many of these foods do your kids eat?

26 Mar

Recently I came across a list on Babble, which listed 10 Super-Foods Your Kids Should Be Eating Now. I was immediately intrigued. I wondered what the foods were, and whether or not any combination of my kids were eating them. Below is the list and I’ve shared with you how my kids fare. How many of them do your kids eat?

1) Blueberries: All three eat these

2) Sweet Potatoes: Elizabeth likes them

3) Natural Nut Butter (for kids without allergies to nuts): My kids eat chocolate peanut butter but I don’t think that counts. They eat regular peanut butter, but it’s generally Skippy so that’s not all natural either.

4) Avocados: Alex and Liz like them

5) Broccoli: they all like it

6) Yogurt: They all like it, especially if it has crushed up Oreos in it, or is Boston Cream Pie flavored, which I’m not sure is quite what they had in mind here.

7) Tuna and Salmon: They all liked salmon the last time we had it, they all like tuna and spaghetti and Liz likes a regular ole tuna sandwich, even just tuna in a bowl.

8) Eggs: They like em’ hard boiled, fried, scrambled, and Caroline even likes just whites.

9) Beans and Legumes: Here we fall short. Alex and Liz like peas and Liz likes Lima beans, but overall they’re not huge bean eaters other than string beans, which Caroline in particular, loves.

10) Seaweed: Unless it’s wrapped around sushi, which we get to have only once in a blue moon, they don’t really have a whole lot of seaweed opportunities here. Two out of three like sushi though.

So now that you’ve seen the list, how did your family fare? What do you think about the list? As I read it I thought of several other really good for you foods that my kids do eat, so even though we missed a few things on the list, I know there’s other really good things that they eat also and that makes me feel good!

A new after school dip from Budget Gourmet Mom

22 Mar

Chocolate chip cookie dough dip...how could I resist trying this one?

I follow several different blogs and one of the ones I really love is the Budget Gourmet Mom blog. I actually wait all day long to see what is going to pop up in my inbox each afternoon. She and I seem to have the same taste, the same love of chocolate and the same frugal lifestyle when it comes to cooking.

Last week when Krista posted a recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip, I knew I just had to try it out.  Now Krista is not just a great cook, but she takes beautiful photos of her food. You have to go over and check them out. Everything always looks so pretty, right down to the wood on her table. It’s very different from when I take my photos, on top of the stove, the counter, or wherever I can find a space. She also has a way of writing while she shows her photos. I just love to read her blog, it’s thoroughly enjoyable.  And, Krista has a ton of kids, I think four of them, so I can’t say she has nothing better to do, because she’s super busy too.

I tried this out last week, and my kids enjoyed it, but they still stand by the peanut butter yogurt dip as their favorite.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 tblsp cream cheese, softened
  • 1 heaping tblsp light brown sugar
  • 6 oz lowfat vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium bowl use a spoon to work the brown sugar into the cream cheese. Stir until combined.
  2. Add the yogurt and stir until creamy. You may want to use a mixer to fluff it a bit but it’s not necessary.
  3. Fold in the chocolate chips and serve with graham crackers, fruit, or pretzels.

Grandma Grello’s Mashed Potato Bake

21 Mar

My memories of our summer days at the beach are very special to me.

As a kid, I spent at least half of each of my entire summers with Grandma and Grandpa Grello down by the beach near their house. We often slept there for a couple of weeks at a time while my parents worked. I have great memories of all the times we spent with them, the things we got to do, and of course, all the great things we got to eat while at their house. They made the best french toast, the best omelettes, the best pizza, the best everything.

As an adult with my own kids, I have made sure to take advantage of the fact that until recently we still had both of them in our lives and even now, we have her in our life still. I know how lucky we are, how lucky my kids are, and I do my very best to cherish this time with her, hoping to make similar memories for my kids to cherish too.

I tell you this not because I’m going off on a tangent, but because today’s recipe is another one of her recipes and it’s one that she made for our family a couple of summers ago after a day at the beach. Very often we would to take our kids to the beach, spend a good part of the day there, and then come back to her house to shower and change up for dinner.

In the time we’d spend at the beach, and entire dinner would be prepared for us, including appetizers, which was usually their famous homemade pizza and spinach pies.  Oftentimes there was a homemade blueberry pie sitting on the counter cooling as well, and ice cream in the freezer to go with it. (Hungry yet?) We’d eat our dinner, and then sit out on their deck for hours, having coffee and dessert out there while the kids played in the yard while the sun set, chasing rabbits (there were always so many rabbits in their yard, it seemed.) It was idyllic, to say the least.

I think of Grandma Grello and our days at the beach near her house, every time I make this.

One particular visit, she served us a whole roasted chicken with this amazing Mashed Potato Bake on the side. It wasn’t anything complex, but it was so delicious I couldn’t believe we’d never had it before. Now, every time we make it ourselves, I think of her and those times we spent at their house.

As you know, she’s famous for her homemade French Meat Pies, and since she gives us one for our freezer every year, I usually will make this Mashed Potato Bake as the side dish to go with it. This year Don made the mashed potato bake to go with the meat pie and it was as delicious as ever.

I don’t have a specific recipe for you, but it’s really super easy:

1) You make a basic recipe of mashed potatoes using as many potoates as you normally would, but when you are mashing them, add in about a half block of shredded cheddar cheese (more for a big batch, less for a smaller batch.)

2) Spread the mashed potatoes into a casserole dish and top with more cheddar cheese, bread crumbs and bacon bits.

3) Bake until crispy and brown around the edges.

Super easy, super delicious and for me, full of happy memories.

Gram Grello's Mashed Potato Bake with her French Meat Pie: the perfect combination of tastes and memories! Enjoy!

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