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December 7, 2014

Spicy Franks and Beans



This is the happiest time of the year, unless you are shopping. At the grocery store this weekend I ran into multiple women who must be trying to do too many things on their to-do list. They not only looked frazzled, but they were more than a little snippy. Now if it was one or two people in the store I could understand. However, it was pretty much every woman except one. The one woman was very sweet and reminded me that not everyone is focused on doing too much at the expense of actually enjoying the holidays. I decided a couple of years back after I started snapping at my kids during most of the month of December, that I needed to stop trying to overdo Christmas. A simple Christmas is relaxing, and at the end of the day my kids love curling up and watching a movie with me as much as any over hyped Christmas toy that I spent multiple weekends searching for. So my Christmas gift list is already done, my meal plan is simple, and my Christmas card list is very short. I am also planning a few fun new Christmas adult drink recipes for my husband and I to enjoy on Christmas Eve after the kids go to bed. Being together and happy is the most important part of the season.



In the last month my fridge, oven, and toilet all broke in the same week. Needless to say I haven't had a lot of new recipe posts. Luckily everything is fixed now and Thanksgiving actually got on the table after having my oven prepared at 11:30 at night the day before. In December I try to make my meal plans simple and easy since there are so many other things to do and focus upon. The following recipe is for Spicy Franks and Beans.

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Magazine.


Spicy Franks and Beans



Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients
  • 2 cups dried black-eyed peas
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped sweet onions (about 2 small)
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 7 ounces small cooked smoked sausage links
  • 7 ounces andouille sausage links, sliced
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 1/2 cups water
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse black-eyed peas and spread on bottom of greased 3 quart baking dish.
  3. Heat oil over medium heat in a 4 quart dutch oven.
  4. Add celery, garlic, green pepper, and onion.
  5. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.
  6. Add sausage slices and links and cook 2 minutes.
  7. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and water and bring to a boil.
  8. Pour tomato mixture oven beans and cover with foil.
  9. Cook for 1 hour.
  10. Stir and uncover.
  11. Bake 45 minutes more, stirring 2-3 times.
Tips: 
  • The total cooking time can vary. Check the beans 20 minutes after uncovering (step 10). They maybe done, or can take up to an additional 20 minutes. 
  • My family loves sausage so oftentimes I use the entire package of small sausage links. I just make sure to add additional water so that nothing dries out. 
  • If you like a little bit of heat this recipe is great with the addition of cayenne or chili powder. It would also work with a minced jalapeño (seeded or unseeded). 
  • As a side or topping cornbread is great! 

November 30, 2014

Delicious Pumpkin Muffins Using Monk Fruit In The Raw

Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of theMoms Meet SM program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meets SM blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product.




It's baking season and I have been baking up a storm for what seems like months. With my two kids home last week for Thanksgiving I made a lot of snack foods, many of them involving pumpkin. Pumpkin is a big deal in my house during the month of November, my kids love pumpkin baked goods and I make a lot of cookies and muffins using fresh and canned pumpkin. Since I try to reduce the amount of sugar that my two kids consume I am always looking for new products to use in my baking. Recently I was given the opportunity to try Monk Fruit In The Raw and come up with a new recipe. 

Monk Fruit In The Raw is a zero calorie sweetener made from monk fruit. One packet is the same sweetness as two teaspoons of granulated sugar and is kosher, vegan, and gluten free. It can be substituted cup for cup in drinks and sauces, and used 1/2 and 1/2 with regular sugar in baked goods. 

I came up with the following recipe using Monk Fruit In The Raw.


Pumpkin Muffins

Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Monk Fruit In The Raw
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine flour, salt, baking soda, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger in a bowl.
  2. Mix well with a whisk.
  3. In another bowl combine sugar, Monk Fruit In The Raw, 1 egg, melted butter, and molasses.
  4. Mix well and then add other egg.
  5. Whisk well and then add in pumpkin and vanilla.
  6. Combine two bowls and mix.
  7. Slowly add buttermilk and combine just until ingredients are blended.
  8. Pour into a greased 12 cup muffin tin.
  9. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  10. Let cool ten minutes. 
For more information go to the following websites:

November 23, 2014

Negra Modelo: the Perfect Complement to a Great Homemade Meal

Disclaimer: I received products and compensation from Negra Modelo in order to facilitate this post. As always all opinions expressed are my own.



I love to entertain. There is something about setting a great table, finding the perfect recipes to prepare, and being surrounded by great company that is part of the better things in life. In addition to the food and company finding a great complement to the meal is part of the fun. Recently I hosted a dinner centered around and complemented by Negra Modelo.

A little background on the brand. Negra Modelo is a dark style lager that is made by slow roasting caramel malts. The brewing process takes twice as long as other beers making for its distinct taste. The gold foil lined bottle is distinctive and attractive and the lager pairs beautifully with a variety of foods.



I'm a big fan of homemade comfort food. Simple dishes can be flavorful and make you feel warm and fuzzy. In order to host my meal I was sent a variety of spices from The Spice House to use in my recipes. I came up with 4 new recipes for my meal: a roasted butter-bicentennial seasoning rubbed chicken, bavarian style seasoning roasted potatoes, Italian bread, and chocolate cupcakes with Negra Modelo frosting (recipe to come later this week). The recipes are as follows.




Bavarian Seasoning Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 pounds fingerling potatoes
  • 1-2 teaspoons The Spice House bavarian style seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. In a bowl toss potatoes with seasoning, salt and olive oil.
  3. Place potatoes cut side down on a foil lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until nicely browned.



Butter-Bicentennial Rubbed Roasted Chicken

Ingredients
  • 5-6 pound roaster chicken
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1-2 teaspoons The Spice House bicentennial seasoning
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine seasning and butter in a bowl, softening butter with your fingers.
  3. Gently separate skin from meat on the roaster chicken.
  4. Rub butter mixture under the skin.
  5. Cook bird for 2 hours or until juices run clear and bird reaches temp.



Cheese-Italian Herb Bread

Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups plus 1 tablespoons bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons dry milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon The Spice House bavarian style seasoning
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
Cooking Directions
  1. Add ingredients to bread machine in order recommended by the manufacture.
  2. Select basic cycle.
  3. Let bread cool for one hour before slicing.
  4. If you don't have a bread machine the dough can be hand kneaded for 8 minutes.
  5. Place into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled (approximately 1 hour).
  6. Punch down, shape into a loaf, and place in a greased loaf pan.
  7. Cover with plastic and let rise until doubled (approximately 1 hour).
  8. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.
The Negra Modelo was a perfect accompiment to the meal. The taste was a complement to the food without being overbearing, and the seasonings made for nice flavors. 

For more information go to the following links: 

Website: http://www.negramodelousa.com/home
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NegraModeloUSA
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NegraModeloUSA
Instagram: http://instagram.com/negramodelousa

November 15, 2014

Pork and Tomatillo Chili



I've decided to scale Christmas down this year. It seems that Thanksgiving is almost forgotten with the rush to start buying Christmas gifts earlier and earlier. So this year I have talked to my kids about not overdoing the holidays. They will be receiving one large gift from my husband and I and that's it. Now granted they are wanting electronics this year so the one big gift will be a little pricey, but it will still be less than the madness of previous years. In past years between family on both sides my kids have gotten more toys than I would like to admit. This year we will enjoy a big meal with family and the gifts will take a back seat. No mad dash for gifts and the frustration over not finding the 5,000 toys on my kid's wish lists.



The weather here has been cold and is supposed to get colder this week. Since the weather has been less than pleasant I have been making a lot of hot meals. Chili is a family favorite and this recipe for Pork and Tomatillo has great flavor and the meat is very tender.

Adapted from the Food Network Magazine.


Pork and Tomatillo Chili



Ingredients
  • 1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 2 plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 4 poblano chili peppers
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
Cooking Directions
  1. Toss 1 tablespoon canola oil with the tomatillos and tomatoes on a baking sheet.
  2. On the other side of the baking sheet place the poblanos and jalapeños.
  3. Broil in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until blackened.
  4. Place the peppers in a bowl and cover with a plate or plastic wrap.
  5. Let the peppers soften for 10 minutes.
  6. Take the skins off the tomatoes, then core and chop.
  7. Repeat with the tomatillos.
  8. Peel and seed the peppers.
  9. In a bowl combine the pork with the chili powder, cumin, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.
  10. In a pot over medium heat add 2 tablespoons canola oil.
  11. Add pork and cook 3 minutes until browned.
  12. Move to a plate.
  13. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil and add the onion and garlic.
  14. Cook 3 minutes until softened.
  15. Add cornmeal and cook for 1 minute.
  16. Add the peppers, tomatoes, and tomatillos.
  17. Scrap up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot.
  18. Add the broth and pork and bring to a simmer.
  19. Cover and let cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  20. Uncover and salt and let cook for another 30 minutes.
  21. Remove from the stove and let cool for 10 minutes.
  22. Skim off fat.
Tips: 
  • You can add sliced scallions, pickled jalapeños, or grated cheddar cheese for toppings. 
  • When you trim the pork make sure to keep some the fat for cooking. If you don't have some fat your chili will dry out and your pork won't be as tender. 
  • It may take longer for your peppers to char than 10-15 minutes. Just make sure to flip them when one side blackens so they cook evenly. 

November 11, 2014

Southern Skillet Cornbread



When my husband and I first got married my mother-in-law gifted me a set of cast iron skillets. I had no idea what to do with them. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest the only cornbread my mother really made came from a box or we ate at restaurants. So not knowing what to do with them, I washed the skillets and let them sit to dry. Never, ever, do that to your cast iron skillets. They rust; really, really, rust. In order to hide the evidence I stuck the skillets in a drawer. Then after a few years had passed I decided to take out my skillets and see if they could be saved. After a lot of seasoning they look awesome now. They never get washed, just wiped out and then wiped again with a bit of oil. Cast iron skillets are great, they never stick if you season them correctly and they last for years. My kids are already fighting about who will inherit mine when the time comes.



The best thing about cast iron skillets is cornbread. You really can't compare cornbread made in a cast iron skillet with cornbread made in a regular pan. The skillet makes a delicious golden brown outside crust that is so good! The following is a recipe for skillet corn bread. This recipe has a small amount of sugar, my husband prefers no sugar whatsoever in his cornbread, but my kids like a small amount so this is the compromise. If you want true southern cornbread leave out the sugar.

Adapted from here.


Classic Southern Skillet Cornbread


Ingredients
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose or bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
Cooking Directions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place 1-2 tablespoons of oil (or bacon fat) in a 10 inch cast iron skillet and place on the center rack of the oven.
  3. Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
  4. Mix until well blended.
  5. In another bowl combine the oil, buttermilk, and eggs.
  6. Make a well in the middle of the bowl with the dry ingredients and add the bowl with the wet ingredients.
  7. Do not overmix or your cornbread won't taste as good.
  8. Remove the preheated skillet from the oven and turn the skillet in order for the sides of the skillet to be coated in oil.
  9. Pour batter into skillet and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  10. Let sit for 5 minutes and then run a knife around the edge to pop the cornbread out of the skillet.
  11. Serve with butter, honey, or sorghum.
Tips: 
  • If you don't have a cast iron skillet this recipe can also be made in a 9 inch pyrex or metal pan. Don't pre-heat the pan. 
  • I do not recommend changing the oil to anything other than canola. Olive oil and coconut oil do not work for cornbread. Trust me I tried once just to see and it was pretty much horrible. Bacon grease works great, but I'm pretty sure I'm the only one with a giant cup of bacon grease in my fridge (my husband insists on bacon grease to oil the cast iron skillet). 
  • You can add jalapeños and cheddar cheese for a variation on this recipe. I have done it many times and it's great to go with chili! 
How to season your cast iron skillet: 
  • To season your cast iron skillet. scrub with soapy water. Then scour with coarse salt. This will get any of the dried food bits and dullness off. Rinse and dry well, do not let the skillet air dry this will lead to rust. Rub the skillet with vegetable oil using a paper towel. Place skillet upside down in a  350 degree oven and bake for one hour. Let skillet cool in oven. 
  • Once your skillet is seasoned it just need to be wiped out and then oiled after every use. You only need to re-season your skillet if it rusts or the surface looks dull or starts to stick. I haven't had to season my skillet in years, I just wipe it out, rub with oil and then store. 

November 9, 2014

Homemade Raisin Bread



When my oldest was born my husband acquired a new habit, he started insisting on having our door closed at night. Part of the reason is that we have two cats who come in and make noises, waking us (mostly my husband) up. The other part is that we have to leave a light on in order for my kids to be able to find the bathroom at night. I'm a pretty good sleeper, so having the light or noise doesn't bother me. My husband is noise and light sensitive, he has to have the room quiet and dark or he can't sleep. We are also opposite when we wake up, I wake right up and am ready to go. My husband can be a little grouchy in the morning, it's best to let him get ready by himself. I don't mind the door being closed, except our room stays warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter with the door open. Plus I like my door open, that way my kids don't knock loudly when they wake up in the middle of the night. Then I have to get up out of bed to open the door (my husband likes it locked also), and see what the problem is. Honestly, I like my sleep and that is one extra step I don't seem to have in the middle of the night. Maybe when we are empty nesters my husband will allow me to sleep with the door open once again....



We eat a lot of bread in my house. My kids are constantly hungry and homemade bread is a great way to save money. We use it for toast, sandwiches, french toast, croutons, you name it. Plus homemade bread makes great breadcrumbs. The following is a recipe for Homemade Raisin Bread. It can be made with or without a bread maker.


Homemade Raisin Bread



Ingredients
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dry milk
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup raisins
Cooking Directions
  1. If using a bread maker add liquid ingredients to the bread pan.
  2. Add dry ingredients (except yeast) to the pan.
  3. Man a will in the flour and add yeast.
  4. Select regular/basic setting on your bread maker, makes 1.5 pound loaf.
  5. If making by hand or with a mixer, mix wet ingredients together.
  6. In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients.
  7. Add yeast to dry ingredients.
  8. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and combine until dough forms.
  9. On a floured surface or in your mixer knead dough for 5 minutes.
  10. Add raisins.
  11. Knead 3 more minutes.
  12. Roll dough into ball and add to an oiled bowl.
  13. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit until doubled (1-2 hours).
  14. Punch dough down.
  15. Form dough into a loaf shape and add to a greased loaf pan.
  16. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until 1 inch above the top of the pan (1-2 hours).
  17. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.
  18. Tent with foil if crust and top brown too quickly.
  19. Wait until cool to slice.
Tips:
  • All-purpose flour can be used instead of bread flour, however, bread flour makes a superior rise and flavor. 
  • I prefer dry milk and water in bread recipes. However, I have made this recipe with regular milk (omit the dry milk and add 1 cup regular milk). Heat the milk with the butter on the stove and then add to other ingredients. 
  • Don't let this dough over rise in the loaf pan or the top will fall in the oven (trust me I did it once). 
  • Don't worry if the bread begins to get really brown on top, my family loves the really browned outside. The first time I made it I thought it was burnt, but they absolutely loved the browned sugar tasting crust! 

November 6, 2014

Potato and Egg Cake



I'm a bit of a procrastinator this year in regards to Thanksgiving. I have absolutely no idea where we are going or what I am cooking if I do indeed host. A large part of the procrastination has to do with the weather. West Virginia weather in November is really unpredictable. Some years it's in the 60's and other years it's snowing. Plus my in-laws live in the mountains so their weather is even more unpredictable than ours. So all in all I have no idea what we are doing for Thanksgiving this year, yet. I'm hoping that by next week I will be able to figure out if I'm hosting or not. Then the debate about what to fix starts, with my kids insisting on Cornish game hens, my in-laws preferring turkey and we not wanting either. Honestly I prefer the sides and dessert, I have never been a big fan of turkey.



I have been trying to reduce the amount of snacks that my kids eat. If given the option they will only eat snacks and never eat an actual dinner all week. So to combat this habit I have been reducing their snacks and making dinners that they are likely to at least try. The following is a recipe for Potato and Egg Cake, which is kid friendly and makes delicious leftovers.

Adapted from the Food Network Magazine.


Potato and Egg Cake



Ingredients
  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
  • 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 ounces sliced provolone cheese
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced jarred roasted red peppers, drained and patted dried
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Add a rimmed baking sheet to the oven to preheat.
  3. Fill saucepan with enough water to cover potatoes.
  4. Add potatoes to boiling water over high heat.
  5. Let cook until potatoes are soft, 15-20 minutes.
  6. Butter an 8 inch cake pan.
  7. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs.
  8. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter and the parmesan to the potatoes, mash.
  9. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Add in the beaten eggs, slowly and mash.
  11. Spread half to the mixture to the buttered cake pan.
  12. Top with provolone, peppers, and parsley.
  13. Make sure to keep an inch border all around the edge.
  14. Top with the rest of the potato mixture, and smooth top.
  15. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs.
  16. Grate the remaining 1 tablespoon butter over top.
  17. Place the cake pan on the heated baking sheet and baked for 15-20 minutes, or until nicely browned on top.
  18. Loosen the edges of the cake with a knife.
  19. Unmold and let the cake rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
Tips:
  • The version from the picture is made with gluten free panko. Gluten free panko is a great substitute for regular bread crumbs and I use it a lot in recipes. 
  • The gluten free version takes a little longer to brown, approximately 5 minutes. 
  • If you aren't a fan of provolone this would also work with Havarti or swiss. 

November 5, 2014

Irish Soda Bread Muffins



My mother kept a ton of papers, including a large amount of my school work. She had stacks and stacks of drawings, report cards, and work sheets. I am the opposite. I keep my kids report cards and a few great pieces of art work, but everything else goes in the trash. Don't worry I do look over every paper that my kids bring home, I just don't keep them. I'm a neat freak and the idea of stacks and stacks of papers makes me want to clean. I have a filing cabinet which holds all my papers, all nicely organized. It doesn't hold all my kids papers. Honestly, they bring home 10 papers each a day and I just don't have the room for all of them. Also I never looked over all the papers my mother kept. I'm just not sentimental about papers from my childhood. My kids are the same way, once I've seen the papers and art work they're happy and into the trash they go. I'm hoping I'm not the only one that doesn't keep a ton of school papers, I just don't see the point.



Irish soda bread is very popular in my house. My husband absolutely loves it and will only eat it the traditional way with no added raisins or sugar. My kids love it anyway I make it, traditional or not. The following is a recipe for Irish Soda Bread Muffins that are baked in a muffin tin, making for an easy dinner side.  This recipe is non-traditional since it contains sugar, but still yummy.

Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes.


Irish Soda Bread Muffins


Ingredients
  • 3 cups bread (or all-purpose) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  2. Using a knife cut the butter into small pieces and add to the bowl.
  3. With either your hands or a fork press the butter into the flour mixture until it makes a coarse meal.
  4. Make a hole in the center of the flour mixture and add buttermilk.
  5. Stir using a wooden or plastic spoon until a dough forms.
  6. Add more buttermilk if necessary.
  7. Do not overmix the dough, it will make for tough muffins.
  8. Grease a muffin tin.
  9. Add dough to twelve muffins cups.
  10. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 12-15 minutes.
  11. Let cool on a wire rack.
Tips: 
  • You can add 1/2 cup raisins and/or 2 teaspoons of caraway seeds. My husband prefers the caraway seeds and no sugar, so experiment until you find a combination you like. 
  • If you don't have buttermilk you can make your own by adding 1 tablespoon of white distilled vinegar to 1 cup 3 tablespoons milk. 

November 4, 2014

Cheddar Pepper Drop Biscuits Made with Homemade Baking Mix



Today was a day off from school for my kids. My kids were hyper from the time they got up and got worse as the day wore on. I would love to say that my nerves aren't fried this evening, but they are. I never realized when I was young just how loud and destructive two boys could be. Honestly, I never really though I would have two boys. Don't get me wrong I love my two boys, but I was totally unprepared for being the mom of only boys. In my mind I always thought I would have a boy and a girl. When my second son got old enough to move around I quickly realized being the mom of multiple boys and only boys is a feat. They are loud and very physical. Boys don't sit down and read, or daydream. They do fight, and throw rocks to see if they can break, try to kill bugs, get dirty, really, really, dirty, and generally don't sit still. It's even funner when one of your kids has ADHD and so does your husband. There are days where my house might actually resembles a madhouse. Tonight I'm just glad that tomorrow is a school day. I love my kids, but one day off was enough for my sanity. I'm also thinking that my kids will be spending a lot of time at camp this summer, as much for me as for them.



The last month I have posted a couple of times about the Homemade Baking Mix that I have been using. It's really great and tonight I'm going to share a third recipe that utilizes the mix. This recipe is for Cheddar Pepper Drop Biscuits and is great recipe as a side with meals.

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living Magazine.


Cheddar Pepper Drop Biscuits Made with Homemade Baking Mix


Ingredients
  • 3 cups Homemade Baking Mix
  • 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar, grated
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine baking mix, cheese, and pepper in a bowl.
  2. Add milk and cream to mixture until a wet dough forms.
  3. On a parchment lined baking sheet drop dough into 8 biscuits.
  4. Add grated cheddar cheese to the tops of each biscuit.
  5. Bake biscuits in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.
  6. Serve warm or reheat when ready to eat.
Tips: 
  • Since everyone has slightly different measuring cups the amount of heavy cream can vary. The original recipe used 1/3 cup. I found that that wasn't nearly enough. I have made this recipe a number of times and the total amount of cream needed has ranged from 1/3 cup to over 1/2 cup. Basically add cream until the dough forms and is moist. Additionally, if you want to save on fat you can add 1/3 cup cream and then slowly add additional whole milk until the dough is the right consistency. 
  • I have used low fat cheese with this recipe and it worked fine. I accidentally bought low fat cheese and was worried that it wouldn't melt etc, but it was a fine substitute. 
  • Make sure to store your homemade baking mix in the fridge, it will go bad since it has butter in it. 

November 3, 2014

Celebrate the Season with Easy Apple Tarts and the #FebrezeHoliday Collection

#Sponsored Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Febreze. As always all opinions expressed are solely my own. 




I can't believe how fast the holidays are approaching, it seems that the month of October flew by! I'm still trying to figure out what we're doing for Thanksgiving (I know procrastination!), but I have already started baking with apples, pumpkins, and other foods of the season. There is something very comforting about the scents of the holidays, I love them! I try to keep my house smelling as yummy as I can and the Frebreze Holiday Collection has a number of holiday scents to help including Frosted Pine, Apple Tart, Toasted Almond, Vanilla Latte and Sugared Cranberry. Recently I was sent a package including a few of the scents and a great box full of recipe and craft ideas. I modified one of the recipe for mini apple tarts and made full size tarts, that turned out delicious! The following is my recipe for Easy Muffin Pan Apple Tarts.


Easy Muffin Pan Apple Tarts


Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 apples, diced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 16 wonton wrappers
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine sugar, water, cinnamon, vanilla, and flour in a saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add the diced apples and stir the mixture until it starts to boil and thicken.
  4. Turn the heat to low and cook covered for 12 minutes or until the apples soften.
  5. Place two wonton wrappers in each greased muffin cup (you should get about 9-10 total).
  6. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
  7. Heap the apple mixture into the middle of each muffin cup and bake for 10 minutes.
That's it, a great way to celebrate the season! Do you have a favorite holiday scent or baking recipe? 

If you are interested in trying any of the Frebreze Holiday Collection scents for yourself they are available for a limited time at Walmart stores. 

November 1, 2014

Lemon Raisin Scones Using Homemade Baking Mix



So I have a weird fear. It's a fear that I've had as far back as I was 18 and hasn't gotten much better. I hate voting in person. I know it's sounds weird, but as soon as I was old enough to vote I voted by absentee. Since I grew up in Washington I never had to have a reason to want an absentee ballot. Now that I live in the state of WV it's another story. You can't vote by absentee unless you have a reason. I would love to say that I have voted in every election and am a great citizen even though I have a panic attack every time I try to vote in person. I don't. I vote in presidential elections, but in-between I am not a great voter. My kids are growing up already going with my husband to vote, and love going to the court house to early vote like they did today. I'm hoping that they will grow up without my anxiety associated with voting. I inherited it from my father and having the behavior stop with me would be a  good thing. It's a weird fear, but I hope by sharing it that other people that share my anxiety will feel a little less alone.



So I shared a homemade baking mix last week that can be used for a variety of baked goods. My kids are in love with the baking mix since it can be used for pancakes, scones, biscuits, you name it. Pretty much anything you could use Bisquick for, except that this mix has fresh butter in it. Here is a recipe for Lemon Raisin Scones using Homemade Baking Mix.


Lemon Raisin Scones

Ingredients
  • 2 cups homemade baking mix
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup chopped raisins
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine baking mix, granulated sugar, raisins, and zest.
  2. In a separate bowl combine cream and egg.
  3. Stir into dry mixture until it comes together.
  4. Add more cream if neccessary.
  5. Hand pat into a 6 inch round.
  6. Cut into 8 wedges.
  7. Brush with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar.
  8. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.
  9. Let cool on a wire rack.
Tips
  • If the mixture doesn't come together well, add more cream. Keep adding cream until a usable dough comes together. 
  • Try not to overwork the dough. The less the dough is worked the fluffier your scones will be. 
  • If you don't like raisins, Craisins would also work. 

October 30, 2014

Cumin Pork with Adobo Black Beans and Red Pepper Salad



I used to love Instagram. When it first came out I used it all the time and thought it was a great way to share my food photos and I quickly gained over 3,000 followers. Now it seems to be a little bit of a waste of time. It doesn't create any blog traffic the way that Pinterest does (Pinterest is awesome for blog traffic!), interaction is at a minimum, and there seems to be a large number of 20 year old girls taking photos of themselves in bikinis. Now I could rock a mean looking bikini if I wanted to, but that isn't something that at 36 I feel the need to want attention for doing. I think social media is stuck at a crossroads. One can only take so many selfies, be they making duck faces for Facebook, or full body bikini shots for Instagram, before the saturation point is reached. Then what. I think Instagram is at that point. How does it move from an over abundance of people taking photos of every little thing they ate and the full body bikini shot of them doing it, to something that can actually be of use to anyone from a business or professional point of view. In the mean time I refuse to start taking photos of myself holding a pie in a skimpy bikini for more likes.



My family is obsessed with pork. If my husband and two kids had their way we would pretty much eat pork everyday. While I love pork, I try to minimize the amount of pork, beef, and lamb that my family eats, so we only eat red meat approximately once a week. When we do eat pork it's normally in the form of pork tenderloin or bacon. The following is a recipe for Cumin Pork with Adobo Black Beans and Red Pepper Salad.

Recipe adapted from the Food Network Magazine.


Cumin Pork with Adobo Black Beans and Red Pepper Salad




Ingredients
  • 1 thinly sliced red onion
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 2 teaspoons adobo sauce (from chipotle chili can)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 pounds trimmed pork tenderloin
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 small red peppers, cut into strips
  • 1 15.5 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Cooking Directions
  1. In a small bowl combine half of the sliced red onion with the juice of 2 limes, `1/2 teaspoon cumin, a pinch of salt, and the chopped chipotle.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  3. Rub the pork with 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin.
  4. Add the pork to the skillet and brown on all sides.
  5. Roast pork on a baking sheet in a 425 degree pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes (or until the temp reaches 145 degrees).
  6. Transfer to a cutting board, cover with foil, and let the pork rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
  7. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the red peppers to the skills that the pork was browned in.
  8. Cook the pepper for approximately 4 minutes, or until slightly softened.
  9. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup water.
  10. Cook until the water evaporates, approximately 4 more minutes.
  11. Add to the onion mixture in the bowl.
  12. Add the black beans to the remaining red onion, 2 teaspoons adobo sauce, honey, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cilantro, and juice of one lime.
  13. Serve the beans, peppers, and sliced pork together.
Tips: 
  • You can substitute cooked beans for the canned. 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans is approximately equivalent to a 15 ounce can. 
  • If you don't use olive oil, canola, sunflower etc. can be substituted. 
  • Don't cut the cilantro until right before you are going to use it. Cilantro starts to lose flavor as soon as it's cut. That's why it's best to chop cilantro right before it is added to salsas etc. Cilantro is not one of the herbs that you want to pre-prep, just don't do it. 

October 29, 2014

Banana Eggnog Bread



My oldest is starting to get hormones. The hormones I don't mind, I could do without the back talking and general dislike of everything I do that goes along with it. One minute he will be angry and want nothing to do with me and the next he is wanting to sit next to me on the couch and cuddle. He is only 8, but he is definitely beginning to go thru puberty (thanks genetics for early puberty in my family!). My mother and I fought all the time when I was going thru puberty, I didn't think she could do anything right and I would be frustrated by the smallest things. I survived, but I definitely think it's easier to be the kid than the parent once hormones start kicking in. Plus my husband seems to be perfect, he's not baring the brunt of any of the dislike that is aimed in my direction. Apparently it's the beginning of years of good times to come.


Approximately twice a week I bake something for an after school snack. My two boys eat everything in site and without snacks they get cranky quickly. I'm a big fan of breads, sweet, savory, you name it. The following is a recipe for Banana Eggnog Bread that is great for this time of year.

Adapted from Taste of Home Nov. 2014 issue.


Banana Eggnog Bread



Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 medium bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup eggnog
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine butter and sugar and beat until well creamed.
  2. One at a time, add eggs.
  3. Beat well.
  4. In another bowl beat bananas, eggnog, and vanilla.
  5. Add to butter and sugar mixture.
  6. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, baking soda, and salt.
  7. Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients, mix well.
  8. Pour batter into a greased 9 x 5 loaf pan.
  9. Sprinkle with remaining nutmeg.
  10. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 60-70 minutes.
  11. Tent top of bread with foil if it browns too quickly.
  12. Cool for 10 minutes in pan and then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Tips
  • If the batter is too thick add additional eggnog. I have made this a few times and the amount of eggnog has ranged from 1/4-1/2 cup. 1/3 cup seems to be approximately the right amount. 
  • Make sure to tent the bread if it browns too quickly. Sweet bread will often overbrown on the sides and be raw in the middle, so make sure that you tent the top if it starts to get browner than you would prefer before the middle has set. 

October 28, 2014

Sausage and Peppers Burgers



I don't dress up for Halloween. My husband takes my kids trick-or-treating, I stay at home, some years I hand out candy, but most years I don't. I don't dislike Halloween, I just am not a fan of the sugar rush that comes with all the candy. I'm a mean mommy, I don't allow my kids candy or junk food. I do bake things at home, but we have very few packaged foods in our cupboards besides rice, flour, and spices. My kids complain that I have only ingredients, but no food, Personally I don't see that as a bad thing. We eat fresh everyday and I make almost everything from scratch (with the exception of cereal which we don't eat, milk, eggs etc.). So on Halloween my kids become candy monsters. As soon as they come in the door, I take their treat bags. Most of the candy goes with my husband to share at work the next day and my kids are only allowed to keep one small plastic bag full of sweets, no suckers or sugared gum (I hate cavities). Honestly, I am looking forward to when they are old enough to want to go to parties and not door-to-door.



My family used to eat burgers frequently, but now we only eat them once every couple of months. We try not to eat a ton of red meat (my family is finally beginning to love tofu), so when we do eat burgers I try to make them different than the ordinary. This recipe for Sausage and Peppers Burgers combines two types of meat for a juicy and delicious burger combination. The recipe is as follows.

Recipe adapted from the Food Network Magazine.


Sausage and Peppers Burgers



Ingredients
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 6 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 red onion, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 strips
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 slices provolone cheese
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • warmed marinara sauce
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine the sausage, beef, garlic, oregano, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1.4 teaspoon salt in a bowl.
  2. After well blended form into 4 patties.
  3. In a skillet over medium heat add olive oil, peppers, and onion.
  4. Sauté until peppers and onions are browned and soft, about 6-8 minutes.
  5. Preheat a grill (or grill pan) to medium high heat.
  6. Add the burgers and cook until browned and cooked all the way through (4-6 minutes per side).
  7. Top with cheese for the last 2 minutes of cooking time.
  8. Add burger to bun, toping with peppers/onions, and warmed marinara sauce.
Tips
  • These burger can be made into smaller patties for children. I make my kids burgers into 1/8 of a pound since they couldn't finish a 1/4 pound burger. 
  • If you don't have a grill a grill pan or a skillet would also be fine for cooking the burgers on the stove. 
  • I have also tried this with chicken sausage and ground chicken. The taste was different (I also added Greek seasoning), but the flavors were still great together, plus it cut down on fat. 

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