Friday, November 25, 2011

Goodies for Gifts

I think one the easiest and most thoughtful "small gifts" during the holiday season is baked goods.

There is no way we could ever afford to buy each one of Andrew's co-workers a Christmas gift. Not to mention, it would be a little over the top. But I am not a fan of a big box of food sent into the office. I am convinced that the big box of treats everyone sticks there hand in is how everyone will end up with a cold or flu during the holiday season. Maybe Andrew and I both over think this, but we don't usually partake of treats that are sitting on the break room table for anyone and everyone to grab.

So with a little help from Martha Stewart's small treat boxes, we will be giving them each there on little box of goodies.

I am planning to have three different kinds of goodies in each box. The thought of holiday baking might stress you out. And the thought of THREE different treats might add to it. Here is the tip: make 2 of the treats ones that will freeze and thaw out well. Make those two a couple weeks ahead of time and then thaw out the night before you assemble them with the last treat, which you bake fresh.

Here are some good cookies that freeze and thaw well:

Finish off with one of your favorite cookies recipes that taste the best when fresh. Or keep it simple and make a batch of Puppy Chow to add to your mix. I'm thinking a simple chocolate chip cookie recipe (found on Pinterest, posting recipe soon!) will finish off my treat boxes.

*Always make sure that your cookies are completely cool before freezing. I usually put the cookies in a gallon sized freezer bag. I don't pile them in the bag. I tend to only stack them 2 cookies high in each bag so that they stack evenly in the freezer. If I don't plan to use them all at once, I store them in smaller bags (quart sized freezer bags) so that I can thaw a bag as I need them.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Weekly Meal Plan

  • Oatmeal
  • Cereal
  • Eggs
  • English Muffins
  • Smoothies
  • Cereal Bars
  • Leftovers
  • Soup
  • PB&Js
  • Mac n Cheese

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekly Meal Plan

  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Smoothies
  • Bagel
  • English Muffins
  • Eggs
  • Fruit
  • Yogurt

Monday, November 7, 2011

Black Bean Soup

This is one of Hallie's recipes. We were talking about how I can't make beans. Like from dried beans. I always buy canned. She forwarded me three recipes that all use dry beans and this is the first one that I tried and it turned out terrific!

16 oz dry black beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
1 box chicken broth
3 large carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
1 small onion, diced
1 jar of salsa
1 envelope of taco seasoning (or 2 Tbsp of this seasoning recipe)

Spray crockpot with cooking spray. Drain beans and give them a rinse. Combine beans with remaining ingredients in the crockpot. Cook on LOW all day or on HIGH for 5 hours or until beans are tender. Add water during cook time if beans look like they are getting dry.

Once done, take 1/3 of the mixture and puree it in a blender. Make sure to vent the lid a tad since the mixture is hot. And hold onto the lid. (I once had a terrible mess after blending a corn soup that was really hot.) Just trust me on this.

Pour the puree back into the soup to thicken it. Serve in bowls topped with shredded cheese, cilantro, diced avocado, and sour cream.

Make this Jalapeno Cornbread to go with it. Warm and filling soup for the fall season.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Jalapeno Cornbread

This recipe is straight of the package of Arrowhead Mills Organic Yellow Corn Meal. I don't think I will ever make another corn bread. I only changed one thing and it was minor.

1 cup onion, finely chopped
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp honey
1 1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2-4 jalapeno peppers, chopped (this is what I changed - I like a little can of those fire roasted chili peppers better. But that's just me.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

Saute your onion in the tsp of vegetable oil until soft, about 5 minutes.

Combine the flour, corn meal, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. In a separate mixing bowl combine the butter, honey, milk, and eggs. Add the wet mixture to the dry and combine until just moistened.

Add the onions, 1 cup of the cheese, and the peppers. Pour into the prepared baking dish and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until top is browned.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Weekly Meal Plan

  • Waffles
  • Eggs
  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Granola Bars
  • English Muffins
  • Leftovers
  • Pitas
  • Mac n' Cheese
  • Pasta
  • PB&Js

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup oats (not quick oats)
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

In a sauce pan on low-medium heat, melt and combine the butter, peanut butter, and honey. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, followed by the oats.

Let the mixture cool completely. If it is still warm during the next step, it will melt the chocolate.

Once cool, add the coconut and mini chocolate chips. Stir until evenly combined.

Line an 8 x 8 baking dish with wax or parchment paper. Press granola bar mixture evenly into the pan and place in the fridge until firm (about an hour). Remove and cut into bars. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I place pieces of parchment paper between layers to keep them from sticking to each other.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Halloween

I hope you had a fun Halloween and that your little trick-or-treater shared some of the their good candy with you (like the Snicker's bars and Reese's cups). My train conductor did.