"For I was hungry & you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty & you gave me something to drink..."

Matthew 25:35

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Honey Glazed Baby Carrots

I think I've made it pretty clear that we don't eat a lot of cooked veggies in our house. Sad but true. We do eat some- but most of the time we turn up our noses.
And one of the cooked veggies we abhore is carrots. Raw- awesome. Cooked- death. Yeah- it's that bad.
But then our kid's nanny was all like, "Hey, I fed your girls some honey glazed carrots today & they loved them!"
And I was all like, "Really? But...we hate cooked carrots."
Then I looked at my girls & though, "who ARE you?"

But then I got to thinking about how terrible my eyes are & how terrible the husband's eyes are...& decided that carrots are a good thing. And cooking them takes away 95% of the choking risk (seriously, if there is 1 think I ALWAYS choke on it's raw carrots) so maybe I should give it a shot.
So glazed carrots happened last night.
And guess what?
....I liked them. ::gasp::
I know- it sounds crazy but it's true. I was like- wow. Carrots with sugar = delish. And healthy- sort of. Right?
Regardless- I offered some to the girls & my eldest ate them without complaint. My 1 year old spit them out- but babies are finnicky creatures who are not to be trusted.

Honey Glazed Baby Carrots (via southern food)
You Need:
2 lbs of baby carrots
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 tblsp of butter
4 tlsp of honey
3 tblsp packed brown sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
ground pepper & parsley (garnish)

Directions: Toss the carrots in a sauce pan, top with cold water & salt. Bring to a boil & cook for 15 minutes (or until tender). Drain & set aside.
Using the same saucepan (sans the carrots) melt the butter over medium heat & then stir inthe sugar & honey. Cook & stir untilt he sugar dissolves, then add the lemon juice & gently stir in the carrots. Continue to heat & gently stir the carrots until they're hot & glazed.
Serve with black pepper & parsley (if you want. i just used pepper)

You guys- so.good. And simple.
I made the husband try a piece (which he fought me so hard on) in the hopes that he'd agree & declare his love for glazed carrots...no dice.
He actually gagged. But he's dramatic like a lady so yeah. Whatever. His loss. More carrots for me & mine.
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Chai Tea Concentrate

I'm all about homemade Christmas gifts this year. Yes, it's rewarding to see someone enjoying something you made with your own 2 hands...but mainly it's because i'm a cheap Scrooge.

ba-humbug to you, Chase credit card people. stop wanting me to spend money.

ok- chai tea. it's awesome. 9 out of 10 people love it. & i'm pretty sure Starbucks charges a small fortune to buy a cup- so it's best (ie: cheaper) to make it yourself.

Chai Tea Concentrate (via from scratch club)
You Need
14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Directions: Mix everything together in a glass jar. Cap it & you're done.
Crazy easy & people will marvel at your abilities.

Directions for use:
Add 2 heaping tsp (or more to taste) to a stong cup of coffe, hot cocoa, warm milk or a black tea, like Assam. Stir well & enjoy. Store in the fridge for up to 6 months.

I plan on gifting this with some Assam tea & a cute mug. End.

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Poppy Chow Popcorn

Poppy Chow Popcorn (yes, a clever play on the words "puppy chow" which is another delectable chex mix treat)
Popcorn, peanut butter & chocolate. As simple as that.
Well, technically there are some ther ingredients- but you know what i mean.

Poppy Chow Popcorn (via brown eyed baker)
You Need:
9 cups of popped popcorn
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

- Place your popcorn in a huge bowl (as always)
- In a microave safe bowl melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter & butter until melted & smooth. Stir in the vanilla.
- Pour the mixture over the popcorn & stir until everything is well coated.
- Sift the powdered sugar over the popcorn & stir until all of the pieces are well coated.
- Spread the mixture onto a cookie sheet (lined with wax paper) & place in the fridge for about 30 min (until chocolate is set)
- Break it up (if you need to) & eat it. You can store the rest in an airtight container.

This popcorn was good, but I think it's best to eat it the day you make it or within 1-2 days. After the 1st day the popcorn gets a bit soft. It's still delish- but not as crunchy as I'd like.

I did send some out as gifts along with the Cinnamon Bun Popcorn- but It doesn't hold up quite as well.

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Cinnamon Bun Popcorn

first off, no. i'm not trying a cool new way of taking pictures. i just happen to live in the northeast where it gets dark around 4pm. it's also cold. freezing in fact.

so i turn on the porch light, stand outside in sub zero temps & take pictures of food while my kids bang on the slider glass. sounds awesome, right?

hooray for winter.

ok- back to the popcorn.
this stuff is even better than the last batch i posted about.
addicting. i sent it out as chrsitmas gifts & i've already gotten back reports on people's innability to stop eating it. that's a win.

Cinnamon Bun Popcorn (adapted from our best bites)
You Need:
12 cups popped popcorn
1 cup roughly chopped pecans
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup Karo syrup (or honey)
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
3 squares of almond bark
sea salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 250. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Mix up the popcorn & pecans in a massive bowl massive i tell you) & set aside.
Combine the cinnamon & brown sugar in a large microwave safe bowl. Cut up the butter into squares & place on top of the sugar miture. Pour the Kar syrup over it all & pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds (just enough to soften up the butter)
Stir everything together & place it back in the microwave for 2 minutes.
Remove & stir. Then ut it back in for 2 more minutes.
When you take it out it should all bubbly looking. That's perfect.

Now you can stir in the vanilla & baking soda. Then pretend you're a scientist as you watch it get all foamy & awesome.
Now stir it into the popcorn at once & keep stirring until everything is coated nice & evenly.
Spread the popcorn on the baking sheet, sprinkle with sea salt (i sprinkled with a liberal amount. i like salt) & place it in the oven. Bake it for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
After 30 minutes you can test it. Take a piece & let it cool a bit. Eat it. Is it crunchy & awesome? If so- done. If not, keep baking for another 5 minutes or so.

I think 30-35 minutes is perfect.

Once it's done- stir it one last time & spread it out onto wax paper. While it's cooling a bit, melt your Almond Bark according to the package directions. Then use a fork & drizzle it all over your popcorn mixture.

Now leave it alone- it'll harden up in a short while & then you can break it up into chunks & start inhaling it.

Incredible. & so perfect for gift giving. I wrapped it up in plastic candy bags & sent it throught he mail. I stored the rest in an airtight container...& then ate it the next day.
stupid popcorn.
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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Peppermint Cookies & Cream Popcorn

let me start by letting you know that if you can't control yourself around salty sweet popcorn then you probably shouldn't make this.
because if you can't control yourself to begin with, then you're probably going to OD on this stuff. it's fan-freaking-tastic.

alright- i warned you.

Peppermint Cookies & Cream Popcorn (via plain chicken)
You Need:
8 cups of popped popcorn (you can use the microwave stuff, but i prefer to pop it on the stove)
1 (6oz) box of candy canes, crushed
1 package of Oreos, crushed (i used double stuffed)
1 1/2 packs of Almond Bark, vanilla
1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Directions: Pop your popcorn according to the directions & set aside in a massive bowl. Like a bowl WAY bigger than you think you'll need- because you will.
Crush the candy canes & the Oreos & mix with the popcorn.
Melt the almond bark according to the package directions & stir in the peppermint extract.
Pour the melted almond bark over your popcorn mixture & stir until everything is evenly coated. I used a nice stir/fold technique. I also used a spatula- worked better for me.
Then spread the popcorn out onto wax paper & allow it to harden.
Break it up & then get busy shoveling it into your mouth.

I'm telling you guys- seriously awesome. I made this & put it into cellaphane bags & passed them out as party favors at brynn's 1st birthday party. A hit- total win.

I'm also planning on making it & giving it as Christmas gifts (along with 2 other popcorn recipes that i'll share later this week)- cheap, easy & genius.
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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot with Potatoes

rarely do i cook an entire chicken. mainly because i abhore taking it apart once the breast is gone. buuut- a whole cooked chicken is awesome. it smells so good & looks all fancy.

plus- they're pretty cheap. so every now & again i can't pass up buying one.
then i remember it's in my freezer & i'm all like, "crap. i should cook that. but it takes too long. & i'm lazy. waaa waaa waaa."

but then Pinterest was all like, "looky here. cook that whole chicken in your crock pot. TADA!"
and i was all like, "omg. duh."

i still have to take it apart- but at least the cooking part is a snap.

Whole Chicken in the Crock Pot (with Potatoes)
You Need:
1 whole chicken (3-5 lbs)
2 large potatoes
salt, pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary (to taste)
1 bay leaf
1 lemon (or a heafty splash of lemon juice)
olive oil

Directions: Peel & cut your potatoes into large chunks. You're going to be putting them in a foil package in the bottom of the crockpot- so spread out a large piece of foil. Sprinkle with seasonings (use whatever you want- but i used salt, pepper & rosemary) & pile on the potatoes. Then toss in some chunks of butter (probably about 3 tblsp worth).
Wrap them up in the foil & place at the bottom of the crock pot. Push the foil pack down so it spreads out a bit & covers the bottom. More so flat than not.

Onto the chicken. Remove the inards, rinse your chicken & pat dry. Rub it down liberally with olive oil.
Note: this next step is optional. I like to do it because i think more flavor gets into the meat. if you don't want to- skip it & move on to the seasonings.
Then make pockets under the skin & smear 2-3 tblspn worth of butter under the skin & all over the chicken.

Mix up your seasonings (to taste) in a small bowl. Again, use whatever you want but i used salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika & rosemary. I mixed up enough to get around 2-3 tbspns worth- give or take.
Now get to work smearing those seasonings under the skin & all over your chicken.
Again, i put them under the skin & also on the skin. I rub them under the chicken, between the thighs & under the wings. I even toss a little inside for good measure.
Then halve the lemon & toss it inside the chicken along with the bay leaf (i didn't have a lemon- so i used a generous splash of lemon juice. You could also throw in onions or other veggies. Or even apples- your choice!)
Place the chicken on top of the foil packet, cover with your crock pot lid.

then cook on low for 7 hours (give or take).

When you take the lid off you'll have a perfect cooked, perfectly seasoned & perfectly moist chicken dinner.
Also the potatoes will be nice & soft & totally seasoned with the chicken juices.
Seriously- you'll be hard pressed not to start stuffing your mouth full of chicken right fromt he crock pot.

Now- if you're anything like me you only like chicken skin if it's crispy. So- if you want to crisp up that skin you can do what i did:

Pre-heat your oven to 425.
Line a baking dish with foil. Transfer the chicken to the baking dish (i used 2 spatulas) & empty the potatoes around the chicken.
Then pour the chicken juices over the chicken & potatoes. Bake it for 15-20 minutes & when you pull it out the skin will be crispy & kick ass.

Eat it all- don't share. Only suckers share crispy chicken skin.

For those that are wondering:
- do i have to cook potatoes?
no. but potatoes ar epretty awesome so you should.
- if i don't cook potatoes, what should i put in the bottom of the crockpot?
ah ha! well your chicken should lie on a bed of something. vegetables work too. if you don't want to use veggies then ball up a couple pieces of foil & set your chicken on top of those.
- why?
mainly becaues when the chicken cooks it juices. a lot. so your chicken will be sitting in juice- now this is NOT a bad thing. hello moist & yummy. but i prefer to have some separation because i think the chicken is less likely to fall apart when you're trying to take it out.
- all that chicken juice- what to do with it?
whatever you do don't throw it away! keep it in the crock pot, add some veggies & the chicken bones & cook on low for a few hours- ta da! chicken stock. or pop it ina container inthe freezer & save it for later.

and there you go- i hope i've just made you life a little easier.
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Monday, December 5, 2011

Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze

i wanted a quick & hearty cake i could whip up for my mother in law's birthday. i didn't want to whip up frosting or wait for anything to cool- i only had a few hours & i'm impatient to boot.

so i looked in my fridge & realized that i had an obscene amount of apples- ding ding sing- apple cake for the win.

Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze (adapted from lickthebowlgood)
You Need:
1 1/2 cups AP flour (i used 1 cup + 2 tbslp of cake flour + 1/2 cup AP flour)
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1.2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil (canola, veg)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups finely chopped apples

Brown Sugar Glaze
You Need:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 tblspn butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tblsp heavy cream (i used whipping cream)

Directions: Pre heat oven to 350. Grease an 8 in baking dish (square, round- whatever)

In a medium bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt & cinnamon. Set aside.

Beat (i used my KitchenAid mixer) the eggs until light in color & foamy. Add the oil & vanilla & beat well.

Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the apples.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan & bake for 40-45 min (i was good with 40)- until done.

Set the hot cake aside & while it's still hot, prepare your glaze.

Glaze: Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Allow to boil for 3-5 minutes, stirrig occasionally.

Spoon the hot glaze over the still hot cake. Spread it out if needed. Let the glazed cake cool 95% of the way...

...and then serve it straight from the pan. with ice cream if you feel so led- which you should- because ice cream is a gift from God.

i liked it warmed back up the best. it was kick ass cold- but after i nuked it for 20 seconds- bam. heaven.

it's akin to eating fall. if that's possible.
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