Friday, April 29, 2011

Chinese Chicken Salad

Chinese Chicken Salad: gorgeous, delicious, and healthy. The perfect meal!


I love making salads--they're so colorful and fun. About this time a year I shift from trying to make a soup/crock pot meal once a week to trying to make a salad once a week.

This salad has the works:

crunchy, bright orange carrots and sweet juicy mandarin oranges,


nutty sunflower seeds and refreshing sugar snap peas,


warm, moist chicken, and sweet red bell peppers (this time I had cherry tomatoes on hand and no red peppers, so they got substituted).


Want to make some? Here's the "recipe"

Something green: Washed and torn lettuce (I usually use Romaine)
Something orange: Chopped carrots
Something red: Chopped red bell peppers
Something yellow: Mandarin Oranges and/or yellow bell peppers
More green: sugar snap peas
Something purple: I often add red cabbage if I have it
Something crunchy: sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, fried wontons, the typical raman noodle stir-fried stuff, etc.
Some nice chicken cooked with your favorite Asian salad dressing or a mixture of soy sauce/ginger/honey.
Favorite Asian salad dressing.

And you're good-to-go! Bon appetite!



 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

 YUM-O. This bread was sooooo good. I made this bread for an Easter get-together we had with friends, and I'd planned to take pretty pictures of it on a plate, buuuut it was eaten too fast. Gobbled right up actually. Gone.


And would that be any surprise? It's warm and delcious, slathered with butter, sugar and cinnamon, and easy to grab a chunk.



I was inspired for this bread by Joy the Baker (who is a continual source of cooking and baking inspiration for me, and I recommend stopping by if you haven't yet discovered her). Anyway, I saw it on her blog and new I had to give it a try. She has a wonderful step-by-step tutorial so I didn't bother taking pictures of the steps--if you want to make it and are visual person, go look at her pictures and see the how-to.

Anyway, I didn't follow her recipe though. I generally like my sweet breads to be hearty rather than just plain sweet (like my Banana Bread, Glazed Apple Loaf or my whole-wheat cinnamon rolls). I thought a rich, eggy bread would taste good contrasted with the sweetness of the "filling" and I was right. The end result was a perfect bread that was sweet and yet hearty and complex-tasting rather than just sweet. You could use my recipe, her recipe or your favorite cinnamon roll dough recipe and the results would be great.

Ready to give it a whirl? Of course you are; who wouldn't be?!


Here's the recipe

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread
For the bread:
5 c. flour (I use 2 c. whole wheat)
½ tsp. allspice
2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. yeast
1 c. warm water
2 Tbsp.- ¼ c. sugar
2 eggs
6 Tbsp. butter

For the topping
Melted butter
Cinnamon
Sugar
Opt: dash of nutmeg

1.       I use a bread maker when I make bread, so I just dump all the ingredients for the bread into the bread maker, set it for “dough” and let it go. If you are making it by hand, then follow traditional methods.
2.       After the dough has risen and doubled in bulk, punch it down and prepare a surface with a bit of cooking oil to prevent sticking. Grease a bread pan.
3.       Roll your dough out as if you were going to make cinnamon rolls. Then, just as like making cinnamon rolls, slather with melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon.
4.       Instead of rolling it up like you would for cinnamon rolls, slice the dough into slices about 3 inches wide. Then stack the slices on top of each other and slice them into squares. Pick them up, and put them in the pan so that the edges face up. Now let it rise again.
5.       Bake in a preheated oven at 375. I put tin foil over the top of mine for the last few minutes of baking. It should take about 30 minutes.


Click here to print.

 

Linking up here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hanging Garden

Jaime and I (Emily) have been planting these hanging gardens the last few year. They are just too beautiful and practical.

 See what I mean?
Beautiful

 Practical

Living in a townhouse the last few years, I've had very limited options when it comes to gardening. No yard (that I can change anyway) and only a small patio space. So this is the solution we came up with. Flowers and veggies all in one. No digging holes in the lawn and there's still room on the patio for sidewalk chalk :)

So if you want your own...


and why wouldn't you?...


Keep Reading!

Friday, April 22, 2011

How to Make a (Healthy) Smoothie

We eat smoothies A LOT at our house. Most usually for breakfast (usually a few times a week), but sometimes for snacks or even for our "date night" treats. My kids love them as frozen "popsicles."


I've tried a lot of good smoothie recipes in my day, but today I want to share our "base" recipe. It's fast, it's healthy, and easy to remember. Once you get the hang of it, then you can start doing all sorts of adventurous combinations.

BASE SMOOTHIE RECIPE
2 c. orange juice
2 c. frozen strawberries
1 banana

Blend in a blender and enjoy yourself. :)

As you can see, I like to tweak mine:


Today I used:
1 c. raspberry juice (Juicy Juice style)
1 orange
1 c. frozen mangos
1 c. frozen mixed berries
1 banana


And might I say, it was fabulous. :)

The possibilites are limitless. I've even made them very thick and told my kids it was ice cream...they were thrilled. Not that I'd have to of course, a smoothie to them is the best treat around.


And for extra bonus? Add a slice of red cabbage, or a handful of spinach, or a handful of raw baby carrots, etc. You can hardly tell and why not add more veggies when you can?


 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter Birds' Nests Treats



I've seen versions of these cute Easter Nests around blogland and thought they'd be a fun treat to make this year for Easter. After comparing a few recipes, I sorta just "winged" it and they turned out cute.




Personally, I think they don't taste all that great (if your going to eat something sweet then it might as well be something fabulous like cheesecake or berry cobbler I say) BUT they were cute and festive and a HUGE hit with kids. :) Wouldn't they be fun for a kids party?!

Here's what you do to make them. (The recipe is at the bottom)

Gather your ingredients:


Place the butter and marshmallows in a microwave safe bowl and melt.


Stir in the chocolate chips until melted and combined. You may need to microwave again.

 When it's all ooey and gooey, stir in the noodles and Rice Krispies.

Stir until evenly combined.

Divide into muffin cups and shape into nest shapes. Then add the "eggs" and little "birds."

Eat and enjoy! Notice how the Peep is missing. That was her favorite part...


What cute little guys. If I ever make them again, I think I'll go for the blue Peeps so that they look like little blue birds. :) Also, if I ever make them again, I think I'll add some peanut butter--I think that'd taste good.

Ready to make some? Here's your recipe.

Easter Nests
3 cups miniature marshmallows
4 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips or butterscotch chips
1 cup Rice Krispies
2.5 cups crispy chow mein noodles
candy eggs
12 Peeps

Grease a muffin tin.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the marshmallows and butter. Microwave for 1 minute then stir. If the marshmallows are not completely melted, microwave for an additional 30-45 seconds, until the marshmallows are melted. Stir the marshmallow and butter mixture until it is smooth. Add the vanilla extract and chocolate chips, stir to combine. Add the chow mein noodles and Rice Krispies, stir until evenly covered with the marshmallow mixture.

Evenly divide among the 12 muffin cups. Using a greased spoon (or your hands) mold the noodles into a nest shape. Place the candy eggs in the nest and a Peep in each nest as well. Place in the refrigerator to harden.

These can be stored at room temperature in a sealed container for up to a week. However, the Peeps will get stale quickly, if storing these, then add the Peeps right before serving. You can dip them in melted chocolate before placing in the nests to make them stay.


 

Linking up here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter Sugar Cookies

Almost too cute to eat. Almost.


Happy Easter Baking!

Here is the recipe for the sugar cookies and for the cream cheese frosting Emily usually puts on them.
Jaime often uses this sugar-free cream cheese frosting recipe with orange juice concentrate.
Cub Scout Sugar Cookies
2/3 cup Shortening
2/3 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Baking Powder
2 cups Flour

Cream shortening, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add salt, bp, and flour. Mix well.
Roll out about 1/4 inch thick (not thinner) and cut into shapes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes

I LOVE this sugar cookie recipe. It is also about as simple as you can get, which is a bonus.

*HINT*

The most important part is the baking time! Be sure to take them out of the oven BEFORE they brown. This way they'll be moist and soft. If you bake them too long they'll be a little more dry or crumbly.



Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup Butter, softened
8 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
1 pound Powdered Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla

Mix cream cheese and butter together. Gradually add powdered sugar. Add vanilla.
(this is a pretty big recipe- just a heads up)



Sunday, April 17, 2011

What's for Dinner?



I finally tried a couple new recipes this week and it payed off!! They were both delicious. Lucky for you I added the links :)

Monday
Mango Chicken Salad with Coconut Loved this one!

Tuesday
Mexican Skillet Rice  (I changed this a bit by using fresh red peppers instead of a can of roasted red peppers and I used corn instead of Mexicorn)

Wednesday
Ravioli

Thursday
Burritos (I used the Mexican Skillet Rice leftovers and rolled it up with cheese in a flour tortilla, then grilled it so the cheese was melted)

Friday
Hamburgers

Saturday
Chef Salad

Sunday
Creamy Potato Soup

picture credits: karolskitchen.com, bhg.com, and potatosouprecipe.com

Friday, April 15, 2011

Easter Baskets

I like to add a little flair to our Easter baskets.


My oldest (3-years-old) and I headed out to the local craft store to get flowers to decorate the Easter baskets, and we had a great time doing it. She thought it was a lot of fun to pick out her own flowers (she went with her signature color--yellow) and also flowers to decorate her baby sister's basket.

Then we came home, whipped out the hot glue gun and went to town on the baskets. I think they turned out really cute and festive, and of course my daughter loves them.

 

Linking up here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Squeaky Clean Reads

Need a Good Book?

Picture from HomePhotoBooks

So I admit that I am not an avid reader, but I do like a good book every now and then.
And since I don't have countless hours to spend reading, I don't want to waste my time with a book that isn't any good.

You're probably wondering where I'm going with this.
Well, my good friend started this website with her sister called


It's fabulous!

Not only does it give you book reviews, but books are also rated on how 'clean' they are.
Marvelous. No wasted time and no dirty surprises!
(I like to look at the 'book lists' tab, pick the genre I want, look at ratings and read a few reviews, then choose a book. When you're done, you can add your review).
If you have kids that read its nice to know if a book is okay for them too.
Anyway, it's such a great resource I thought I'd share!




Monday, April 11, 2011

Repotting houseplants



Do you have houseplants that are in old soil exhausted of nutrients? or maybe they have roots coming out the bottom? Well, it may be time to repot those plants and give them a little room to grow. :) I know I had some plants that were in need, so that what we did this weekend--repotted some of our houseplants. Spring is the perfect time to repot your plants--right before their summer burst of growth.

Now, a word of caution: if it isn't broken, don't fix it! If your plants are fine, there is no reason to repot them and it may actually hurt them to do so. For me, I was repotting because one of my plant's pot was growing mold and stank--not cool. The other pot was disintegrating. In both cases, since it was the pot that was the problem, I put them in a same-sized pot. If you have roots coming out the bottom of your pot, then you'll want to put your plant in a slightly larger pot, but too large of a pot will result in the plant focusing its growth on the roots rather than the foilage.

So, let's get to business.
Gather your supplies:
plants to repotted
new pot
potting soil
water
root-start solution (if desired. just follow instructions on the container.)

(plastic Easter eggs and cute little girl optional!)


 Loosen the plant from it's old pot.


 Put in new pot.


Same thing with this one. 
 

Proper drainage is important for your houseplants. Here, I had some rocks that I put at the bottom. I've also used plastic yogurt containers.... Most of my houseplants have only soil in the pots and they do just fine though, so I don't know how important this step is. After your drainage media, then add a few inches of new potting soil and then add your plant.  


Next, I like to add lots of water and new potting soil, pressing down firmly around the base of your plants.

Voila. Check that one off my Spring "to-do" list.