Friday, December 30, 2011

Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are super easy and make a nice small batch. Because having dozens of cookies around at the beginning of the New Year is never good. =) These made almost 2 dozen.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350.

Use your hand mixer to cream butter and sugars together until fluffy. Add the egg and beat well followed y the vanilla.

In a separate bowl combine the flour and baking soda. Pour the flour mixture into the butter mixture and combine. Add the chocolate chips and stir until well mixed.

Drop teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes (depending on your oven) until lightly browned.

I was feeling fancy and use a mixture of white and semisweet chocolate chips today. Great combo!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

December Birchbox

I've subscribed to a new service. It's called Birchbox. It is like a magazine subscription as it comes once a month. But you don't read it. It is full of beauty samples! For $10 a month you get a pretty box delivered via USPS full of surprises. It's like getting a Christmas gift each month!

This is my first box and here are the goodies I got:
  • Jouer Moisturizing Lip Gloss - the color looks hot pink, but goes on much lighter. It works pretty well for me and I had planned on ordering it but they are back ordered!
  • Oscar Blandi Pronto Invisable Volumizing Dry Shampoo - I am excited to try this one! I try not to wash my hair everyday if I don't have to to avoid all the extra heat styling. I like the dry shampoo I use now but I am looking forward to trying the professional dry shampoo.
  • Huxe Huile Prodigieuse OR Multi-Usage Dry Shimmer - This is to be used in your hair on on your skin. I am not super excited about it but will save it and try it in the summer when my skin has a little more color to it (hopefully).
  • Atelier Cologne Ambre Nue Cologn Absolue - not my style. Smells a little too much like an old lady for my taste.
  • Showstoppers Designer Fashion Tape - I always like have double-sided fashion tape
  • EBOOST Orange Natural Energy Booster - I am not a fan of energy drinks. They never dissolve all the way and they taste too much like Crystal Light. I'm going to give it a try and see if it is any different from previous ones I have tried, but I don't have high expectations.
When you sign up you fill out a beauty profile. They try and match up sample boxes that fit your profile. However, it is the luck of the draw. You may like all the products, some, or none. And you and your friend may end up with different boxes b/c of the way you answered the questions in your profile.

If this is something you'd like head on over to Birchbox and sign up! No contracts and you go month to month. You also earn points for reviewing the products in your box. Every review gets you 10 points. Every 100 points you accumulate get you $10 a full sized product order.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Let's Talk Lunch: Quinoa Greek Salad

I found a lunch idea on Pinterest called "Mason Jar Meals." The idea is that you assemble the meals at the beginning of the week and they stay fresh in the mason jars and are visually appealing, encouraging you to eat the fresh meals you prepared.

I found a recipe on the blog linked above that wasn't at all anything I would like, but something my husband would. So I tried it this week and he gave it an A+!

You will need:
Quinoa, prepared & cooled
Grape tomatoes
Feta cheese
Fresh basil

Clean and dry all fresh ingredients. Make sure you quinoa is cooled so you don't wilt the basil. Clean and dry pint sized mason jars.

Fill your in this order to prevent ingredients from being soggy or crushed:
  • 2 Tbsp vinaigrette
  • 8 to 9 grape tomatoes
  • feta cheese - to your liking
  • quinoa - 1/2 - 3/4 cup
  • 7 or 8 basil leaves

Amounts above are not exact. Use more or less or leave one out if you don't like it.

At meal time, just pour the contents into a bowl and you are ready to eat.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Broccoli Rice Casserole

I love pinterest. This recipe is from there and is so easy I am writing it from memory. So I don't even have a link.

4 cups cooked rice
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 lb fresh broccoli florets
2 cartons cream of mushroom soup
12 oz shredded Colby or cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a nonstick skillet saute the onion, celery, and broccoli florets until soft.

Combine the cooked vegetables, both cartons of cream soup, rice, and 8 oz of the cheese. Spread in a 3 qt casserole dish, sprinkle with remaining cheese and cover. Bake for 45 minutes or until hot. If your dish is deeper, rather than wider, it might take a bit longer to bake.

Remove cover and bake a few more minutes to brown the cheese.

If you use the Pacific Natural Foods brand of cream of mushroom and shred the cheese by hand this dish will be gluten free.

Also the Pacific Natural Foods brand doesn't use MSG in their cream soup. Needless to say, I've kicked Campbell's soup to the curb - a long time ago. 

A new cook in the house

This was the first Christmas that Colin really got into the Santa thing and opening presents.

This year he got a little kitchen. I was so excited to give ti to him! He always wants to help me cook. He also got a few Melissa & Doug food toys. So far he has made me cookies with icing and pizza with peppers. He cracks me up. I tried to organize his cooking toys and as he is making cookies he yells, "Mommy! Where's my baking sheet!?" And when he makes me pizza he says, "Coming right up!"

He needs a few more accessories to go with his kitchen: a little hand towel, a pretend hand soap (we always wash before cooking!!), and some plates.

A couple other super cute things he got: a cookies monster bathrobe and Woody PJs. He also got Buzz PJs but we started with Woody since he also got coordinating boots, hat, and even guitar.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Weekly Meal Plan

  • Oatmeal
  • Cereal
  • Smoothies
  • Waffles
  • Fruit
  • Yogurt
  • Leftovers
  • Mac n Cheese
  • Chicken Nuggets
  • Mason Jar Meal (more to come on that!)
  • PB&Js

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Breakfast with Santa

Yesterday I didn't have to make breakfast. We had reservations with the Murfreesboro Toy Company to have breakfast with Santa!

Upon arrival we were supposed to have photos taken with the man in red. It didn't go so well. Colin was afraid of him so we decided to try at the end. So we sat down at our table and made our craft. We made ornaments (clear plastic balls they filled with tinsel, white and blue sparkly balls, and red sparkly pipecleaner pieces.

Then it was time for breakfast. I'm pretty impressed. They had donuts holes on the table to snack on during crafts and then brought everyone a cup of fruit, a plate with a pancake and bacon, and had orange juice, milk and coffee. Santa walked around and talked to the kids during the craft and breakfast time.

Then Santa read Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Colin sat on my lap for most of it, but he did sit with Ben for a little part of it without me. Even though he knows Santa brings him gifts, he is still a little afraid of him.

We tried one more time with pictures and this time we asked Ben to be in them too. I was hoping if his best friend wasn't afraid and was willing to see Santa with him, he would like it better. He still resisted, but we did end up with two photos where Colin doesn't look completely terrified and in tears. =)

Overall I think they did a great job and I plan to take Colin back next year. Maybe he will be brave enough to meet Santa on his own next year!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekly Meal Plan

  • Donuts
  • English Muffins
  • Pancakes
  • Bacon
  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Smoothies
  • Leftovers
  • Burritos
  • PB&Js
  • Mac n Cheese
  • Pizza
  • Haluski (may regret this...saw it on the food network and looked interesting...)
  • Chicken Enchiladas
  • White Chicken Chili
  • Spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce
  • Leftover night
  • Christmas Eve Dinner at the Granny and Papas

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cajun Chicken Pasta

I love the Small Thing blog for her hair tutorials, but also like a few of the recipes she has posted. I made her Cajun Chicken Pasta the other night with a few variations b/c of what I had on hand and what we preferred. Here is her recipe and here is how I made it:

8 oz linguine pasta
2 skinless, boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
2 Tbsp butter
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 green onion, sliced
1 onion, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Parmesan cheese

Boil the pasta according to package instructions.

Cut the chicken into large bite-sized pieces and place in a large plastic bag with the Cajun seasoning. Shake to coat.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add butter and melt. Add chicken and saute until cooked through. Add the peppers and onions and saute about 3 minutes.

Reduce the heat and add the cream (use more if you wish) and spices. Head through and add the cooked linguine. Heat through.

Sprinkle with some Parmesan and serve!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Weekly Meal Plan

  • Oatmeal
  • Smoothies
  • Cereal
  • Granola
  • Bacon & Eggs
  • Toast
  • Leftovers
  • Office and School Parties!
  • Pizza
  • PB&J
  • Salads
  • Chicken Nuggets
  • Honey Cajun Pork Tenderloin with mashed potatoes and veggies
  • Crispy Southwestern Chicken Wraps
  • Breakfast: Omelets, sausage balls, fruit salad
  • Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili
  • Leftovers
  • Dinner Out
  • Cajun Chicken Pasta

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mint Chocolate Cookies

3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 Tbsp water
12 oz package semi sweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 boxes Andes Mints (green ones)

Stir the butter, brown sugar, and water on the stove until just melted. Add the package of chocolate chips and stir in the warm pan until melted. Let cool. Add 2 beaten eggs and beat well. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.

Chill for 15 minutes.

Spoon out into balls the size of large gumballs. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. Pull out and while still on the cookie sheet, put one Andes Mint on each cookies. Roll and swirls the candy until it is melted.

This makes 6 or 7 dozen cookies and they freeze really well.

Bread Sticks

Found an Olive Garden bread stick knockoff on pinterest and was very pleased!

1 1/2 cups warm water (between 110 - 120 degrees)
1 package active dry yeast
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp salt (I use way way less of this)

In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar and yeast into the warm water. Let it sit about 10 minutes.

In your mixing bowl combine the flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture and butter to the flour and mix by using a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment on your mixer until fully combined.

Knead the dough for a few minutes until it is smooth but dont' over knead it.

Grease a cookie sheet and pull of pieces of the dough and roll it into the bread stick shape. I ended up with 12 bread sticks.

Cover the dough and let sit in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour.

Preheat your oven to 400. Bake for 12 minutes, but brush on half this mixture after 7 minutes:

1 stick unsalted butter
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt

After they bake, brush the remaining half of the butter mixture on and allow to cool for a couple minutes before serving.

*I didn't use all the butter mixture I actually cut it in half. That is just too much butter for us. Even half  that was a lot of butter...

Weekly Meal Plan

  • English Muffins
  • Waffles
  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Smoothies
  • Chicken Nuggets
  • Mac n Cheese
  • BLTs
  • Red Beans & Rice
  • Left overs