Category: Recipes

Homemade Trail Mix

I love snacking.  If you don’t, I’m a little worried about you…

I also love a mix of sweet and salty things.  Trail mix is awesome, except – I don’t really like most of the nuts that are in them.

So I decided that Averie and I would make our own trail mix.  And she LOVED helping out.  Cashews, Raisins and M&M’s were all that we wanted, and we made enough to last us months!

Doesn't it look delicious!?

Doesn’t it look delicious!?

Homemade Trail Mix
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time: 
Total time: 
I bought the biggest bags of each of these that I could find. You can buy whatever size works best, swap out the nuts etc.
Ingredients
  • Cashews
  • Raisins
  • M&M's
  • Snack sized ziploc bags.
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients into a bowl and stir it up.
  2. Use a small cup to measure and place a small amount in each snack sized bag

 

Man Candy – Super Bowl Sunday

So apparently there’s a football game or something that I’m supposed to be paying attention to?  I’m not really sure…  I’m too busy hanging out in the kitchen, stuffing my face with amazing food!  Whatever’s going on in the other room sounds like fun, but I can’t bring myself to walk away from the smorgasboard of deliciousness!!

Especially these.

Man Candy

Man Candy

And here I bet you thought by the title of this post that this was going to be all about some good looking men.  It’s not.  It’s even better – it’s about FOOD!

I love man candy.  Or bacon/brown sugar little smokies.  Whatever you want to call it – and I don’t even like pork all that much (I can hear the chorus of “But you’re from IOWA!”, I know!).

It’s my absolute favorite appetizer.  I love trying to find random reasons to make it, but it tends to be forgotten most of the year… until Superbowl Sunday anyway.

We have other delicious food too…

I totally brought that full circle back to Man Candy again, didn’t I??  Guess I better leave you with a recipe then!

Man Candy
Cuisine: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Make as many (or as few) as you want - I recommend erring on the side of caution and having A LOT.
Ingredients
  • Little Smokies
  • Bacon
  • Brown Sugar
  • Toothpicks
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325
  2. Cut bacon into thirds
  3. Wrap ⅓ of a slice of bacon around each little smokie and secure with a toothpick.
  4. Place on a tinfoil lined baking sheet
  5. Cover (generously) with brown sugar.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes, or until brown sugar is bubbling

 

 

Homemade Sweet and Sour Chicken

I did it!  I finally found an amazing sweet and sour chicken recipe!

There are few things in this world that I love more than sweet and sour chicken.  I’ve tried a few different recipes, but they just don’t taste good.  I came to the realization last time I tried that the bottled sauces were disgusting, and maybe I just needed to suck it up and do everything completely from scratch.

So I dug around and found this recipe and jumped in head first.

Everything was incredibly simple, right up until the point where I had to fry the chicken.  I tried, mind you!  I’m not sure what it is about frying food, but I’m miserable at it.  Which is probably a good thing as it means we don’t eat much fried food around here…

Anyway, Aaron came to my rescue and fried the chicken for me, and then I put everything together.

Homemade Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe

Homemade Sweet and Sour Chicken Recipe

It was A-MA-ZING!  And that’s probably an understatement!

This is definitely a keeper recipe, I wish I had known before how simply it was to make sweet and sour sauce.  I could have saved myself from dozens of terrible attempts with bottled sauces!

Unfortunately, I had printed out a stack of recipes, and I didn’t mark down where they came from, so I can’t credit the original source.  If it’s you, please tell me!!

Homemade Sweet and Sour Chicken
 
Author: 
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 1 (8 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained (juice reserved)
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1¾ cups water, divided
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2 drops orange food color
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2¼ cups self-rising flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 quart vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, combine 1½ cups water, sugar, vinegar, reserved pineapple juice, and orange food coloring. Heat to boiling. Turn off heat. Combine ¼ cup cornstarch and ¼ cup water; slowly stir into saucepan. Continue stirring until mixture thickens.
  2. Combine flour, 2 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, salt, white pepper, and egg. Add 1½ cups water gradually to make a thick batter. Stir to blend thoroughly. Add chicken pieces, and stir until chicken is well coated.
  3. Heat oil in skillet or wok to 360 degrees F (180 degrees C). Fry chicken pieces in hot oil 10 minutes, or until golden. Remove chicken, and drain on paper towels.
  4. When ready to serve, layer green peppers, pineapple chunks, and cooked chicken pieces on a platter. Pour hot sweet and sour sauce over top.

 

Donut Muffins

We were out of milk this morning, so I had agreed to bake something different for breakfast.  Then I got hooked on the idea of making these donut muffins and ended up sending Aaron and Averie to the store for milk anyway!

My two helpers were able to do all of the dipping/rolling.

564505_10151668518721431_2035591064_n   1385389_10151668518836431_115063082_n 

They were delicious – I actually think the ones that were ‘overcooked’ were better in terms of flavor and consistency.  I don’t think the whole ‘baked’ donuts worked out to be any healthier since they were doused in butter, but that wasn’t why I was baking them anyway – so that didn’t bother me!


1379642_10151668517891431_327444795_n   603039_10151668518346431_90581346_n

We doubled the batch – and clearly shouldn’t have.  We had so many leftovers that I ended up sending Aaron and Averie out the door with some for the neighbors.  We haven’t even met them all yet, so I reckon they might have thought we were slightly crazy bringing over random donut holes, but I suppose that fits, so who am I to correct them!

Donut Muffins
 
Author: 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup margarine, melted
  • ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup margarine, melted
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 24 mini-muffin cups.
  2. Mix ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup margarine, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir in the milk, then mix in the baking powder and flour until just combined. Fill the prepared mini muffin cups about half full.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until the tops are lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. While muffins are baking, place ¼ cup of melted margarine in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together ½ cup of sugar with the cinnamon. Remove muffins from their cups, dip each muffin in the melted margarine, and roll in the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Let cool and serve.

 

Mommy Went to India

I ended up in India for a couple weeks for work.  I absolutely love visiting India.  It’s an eye-opening experience.  Even better than going to India – is sharing the trip with others who had never gone before.  After you’ve been there a time or two, you aren’t as shocked by the little things — the crazy traffic, the animals in the middle of road, the sheer difference in the way of life…  although I can’t say I was completely oblivious to these things, the reaction of someone who has never been before is absolutely priceless!

P1040680

P1040681 P1040696 P1040700 P1040765 P1040762

 

There are also the differences in religion…  visiting temples is always amazing.  Unfortunately we didn’t have a Hindu guide to explain everything to us.  Ironically enough – both of our drivers over the course of the trip were very devout Christians.  I still had the best experience visiting Hindu places of worship on a previous trip.   I went through with a coworker who was able to explain things so I could be more involved, and although I’m still not 100% sure as to what I was doing, it was far more fulfilling than just walking through and admiring everything.  Even still – they are  beautiful – the architecture and sheer age of them is astounding!

P1040713

P1040712

P1040711

There are some gorgeous Mosques and Christian Churches as well.  We did go through the church pictured – and met some adorable school children.  Smart too.  One asked me for some American money…

P1040705

 

P1040720

We also visited Mysore Palace.  This wasn’t my first trip there, however it is the first trip where I went inside.  It is truly gorgeous.  We did the audio tour – and although it was very informative, it was almost too much information.  It was absolutely gorgeous on the interior.  No photos allowed inside though, so unfortunately I still only have exterior pictures!

P1040750

P1040747

It was also the first time I rode an elephant at the palace…  Not only did we get to ride the elephant, but we also had the opportunity to be blessed by him (placing his trunk on our heads) and also were given the opportunity to climb outside of the ‘cage’ on his back for riding and sit on his head directly.  Apparently that’s meant to bring you incredibly good luck.  I don’t know if I ended up with any luck, but we did end up amassing quite a crowd in the process!!

P1040724 P1040727

P1040733

Elephant blessing Emily

Elephant blessing Emily

As we left the palace, we encountered a group of village children who were visiting the palace as well — these kids didn’t ask us for any money, which was a nice change, however they did ask our names and where we were from – and they were SO giggly, telling us how beautiful our names were…

You do run into quite a few beggars, and it is incredibly hard to keep your emotions in check.  It’s SO hard to say ‘no’.  Especially to the kids or those who are very clearly disabled…  But if you gave money to everyone that was following you around and asking for it, you would be broke in a heartbeat.

Although we had no extra cash to give him, this little kid was the recipient of my coworkers leftover coconut - and he was SO happy to have it and guzzled it down quickly!

Although we had no cash to give him, this little kid was the recipient of my coworkers leftover coconut – he guzzled it down quickly!

For those who haven’t gone before — the shopping experiences there are definitely very different and much more high pressure than they are here in the US, but once you really understand the way of life, it makes sense.  We’re Americans, in their country – we are seen as rich by comparison, and they definitely don’t want to lose our business.  They negotiate prices and when they see us, they intentionally start high — and it’s usually easy to know when you’re being over charged.  Most of the time it was the difference between $2 and $5 though, and really – if you can afford it, it wasn’t worth the argument.  Especially if the item you’re buying is worth the $5 to you.  They need that extra $3 more than we do…

My friend Emily and I both had some mehndi done on commercial street while shopping.  She had her hand done, I did my feet.  Only problem was that I then had to walk around barefoot for the rest of the day.  That and when I came home to Iowa it was cold out, so nobody here really got to see it – but I loved it!

P1040777

P1040781

P1040779

And then there’s the clothing.  Everything that the girls in India wear just seems to be so much more beautiful and unique – especially compared to our old-navy and target inspired wardrobes here.    I wish I had taken better photos of some of their clothes.  I did, however, bring back quite a few super cute outfits for Averie to wear…  One she wore to see the Easter Bunny, the other she wore in a video I posted a little while ago.  Emily and I did at least try on some sarees though…

P1040766

 

averiesoutfit

 

P1040782

 

I think my favorite part of the whole trip though, was a brief moment where I got to catch up with my girl back home…  even if she was too busy painting to really pay attention to me!

facetimewithaverie

 

All-in-all, it was a great trip.  Lots of fun was had.  I came home well rested (thank you BA for the upgraded seats on the flight!) and with a renewed outlook on life (it’s so much easier to declutter your crap out of your home after seeing how materialistic you must seem!).

Sorry for the late, almost cliff-notes version of my trip!

I definitely can’t wait until I get to go back again!  I’m missing Indian food already….

 

Turkey Sausage Potato Soup

Friday night we went out to dinner at IHOP.  Aaron took Averie home (after she loaded up on sugary syrup) and let me have some ‘me’ time.  So I went shopping.

I started out grabbing groceries, but I decided I should shop for something for me, so I left Target and hit the mall.  Nothing really excited me until I walked past the pillows in JC Penney’s.  I love pillows.  And I needed new ones.  I’ve never in my life bought my own pillows though.

Do you know how many different kinds of pillows there are out there?!?!  I think I plopped my head down onto at least 30 different pillows in the store.  Yes.  I was the idiot in the aisles testing out all of the pillows at JCP, Younkers and Walmart.  And yes, I had to go to three different stores to do this…

I finally settled on some king sized extra firm stay-cool pillows from Serta.  Coupled with putting new sheets on the bed and a bubble bath before crawling in, and I slept AMAZING on Friday night!!

That said — spending extra cash on pillows meant that I had to take the money from somewhere, and rather than dipping into savings, I opted to dip into the grocery budget for the week.

Simple way to do that?  Come up with a cheap lunch for the week…   Being me, I have a few options that fit that description.  I decided that I should pick something to go with the fall weather that we’ve been having.  And apparently its so tasty that I always forget to get a picture of it in a bowl before I eat it all!

A year or so ago, a coworker enlightened me with a great potato soup recipe.  I love potato soup, but I’m not a fan of pork, or of chopping up potatoes by hand, so I made some minor modifications to the recipe.  It’s such a great recipe that it didn’t require a lot of modifying!  And it’s forgiving, so if you add a little more or less of the main ingredients, it still works out great.  Considering potatoes are around $3.50 for 10 lbs, you can get cheap turkey sausage at Wal*Mart for $1.50 a pound, and the rest of the ingredients are things I tend to have around the house anyway, it’s an incredibly cheap meal.  Plus it’s something that Averie is able to help with.  She washed the potatoes for me.  And she wore her goggles while I cried my eyes out chopping the onions.

And she made me giggle when she put her chefs hat on Moxie.  Poor cat.

This also freezes remarkably well, so it’s perfect for lunches at work.  I’m set for 2+ weeks of lunch, and I have an extra comfy bed to sleep in on top of it!


Turkey Sausage Potato Soup
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 16
  • Serving size: 2 Cups
  • Calories: 248
  • Fat: 13
  • Carbohydrates: 24
  • Sugar: 1
  • Sodium: 510
  • Fiber: 2
  • Protein: 10
  • Cholesterol: 40
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Eating on a budget and watching your calories? This soup has a little Italian kick from the turkey, but can be tamed by using less pepper if you don't want it spicy. It's an incredibly easy and forgiving recipe -- I rarely measure the main ingredients and just 'get it close' and it comes out delicious each time.
Ingredients
  • 6 cups sliced potatoes
  • ⅔ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 lb Italian Flavored Ground Turkey
  • 6.5 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
  • 2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 10 tablespoons butter
  • 10 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
Instructions
  1. Brown Ground Turkey.
  2. Combine potatoes, onion, turkey and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt and pepper.
  3. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly until thick (1 minute). Slowly stir in milk being careful that clumps don't form.
  4. Continue cooking the milk mixture over medium-low heat until thick, stirring frequently to prevent clumps (10 minutes).
  5. Add the milk mixture into the potatoes and meat in the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through.
Notes
Recipe is modified from "Delicious Ham and Potato Soup" by Ellie11 at AllRecipes.

 

Easy Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup (Unless You Do Something Dumb Like Me…)

Umm… lets see…  how can a person take a ridiculously simple recipe and make it take hours longer than it should?  Easy…  just try making noodles and neglect to roll them out as thin as you’re supposed to!

In the end – this was DELICIOUS.  And I will be doing it again.  And I will be rolling out my noodles thinner.  Or maybe I’ll cheat and buy premade ones…  Only time will tell!  One thing’s for certain, I won’t make that same mistake again!

Here’s how it goes:

1. Wake up late.
2. Open Freezer and identify a double pack of chicken thighs (~6lbs total).
3. Stand in kitchen and start googling recipes.
4. Look at clock and realize you’re getting nowhere.
5. Open all the cabinets and fridge/freezer looking for hints.
6. Settle on the idea of chicken soup.
7. Grab an onion and chop it into smallish pieces. This was supposed to be a green onion, but it was roughly the size of a pool ball.
8. Rip open chicken packages and toss them in the crockpot.
9. Realize that the chicken still has the paper attached to it to absorb liquids and pull it back out of the crock pot.
10. Remove said paper and put it back in the crock pot.
11. Look at clock, curse.
12. Empty whats left in of the chicken stock into the crockpot. 
13. Curse. Grab bouillion and throw it in, no measurements. Probably a good 3-4 heaping spoonfuls. 
14. Open the fridge and curse again that you don’t have any carrots. 
15. Slam fridge door shut. 
16. Remember that you have julienne carrots for salads and retrieve them. Dump in 1/2 the bag or more.
17. Add water to fill the crockpot until the 2 still-frozen rectangles of chicken thighs are covered with water.
18. Open spice cabinet.
19. Stare hoping an answer will materialize.
20. Give up – put in a couple small handfuls of salt, a decent bit of italian seasonings, a little bit of garlic powder.
21. Close cabinet. 
22. Open cabinet, retrieve black pepper, intend to only put a little in but the lid busts open and dumps a TON.
23. Curse.
24. Grab a measuring cup and remove the vast majority of the pepper that thankfully was still floating.
25. Turn crockpot on high for 10 hours.
26. Go to work.
27. Go shopping.
28. Come home 12 hours later to a delicious smelling house.
29. Start boiling water with some boillion in it for the noodles.
30. Make dough for noodles — 2 cups flour and 4 eggs. 
31. Let Averie do the measuring and turn on the mixer.
32. Clean up the flour from all over the house while Averie insists on eating it and telling me it’s delicious. (mixer still going)
33. Pick up crying child off floor and relocate her to the couch where she can sit and be mad that I cleaned up and threw away all of her ‘delicious flour’.
34. Turn off mixer.
35. Roll out dough as thin as you can. 
36. Keep rolling until it’s even thinner than you thought.
37. (Apparently still dont’ stop early enough…)
38. Use pizza cutter to cut dough. Let small child help.
39. Direct other half who has just arrived home from work to de-bone the chicken thighs and shred the meat.
40. Toss dough into boiling water.
41. Wait.
42. Wait.
43. Feed nearly raw dough to the other half, who loudly proclaims that it isn’t done yet.
44. Wait.
45. Wait.
46. Try feeding him more raw dough and receive the same response as the previous attempt.
47. Wait.
48. Wait. 
49. Receive lecture on not bringing him raw dough but instead cutting it open on the stovetop to check for doneness.
50. Wait.
51. Wait.
52. Reluctantly get up to check again and try his method.
53. Wait.
54. Check.
55. Wait.
56. Wait.
57. Curse at yourself for not rolling and cutting the dough thinner.
58. Wait.
59. Wait.
60. Check. Insert a side comment about how the dough would be thinner and alraedy cooked if we had the pasta attachment for the kitchenaid.
61. Wait.
62. Wait.
63. Check. Feed small child peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
64. Wait.
65. Wait.
66. Wait.
67. Wait.
68. Check. 
69. Put small child to bed.
70. Wait.
71. Check. Serve yourself and the other half a bowl of icecream for dinner.
72. Wait.
73. Wait. 
74. Wait.
75. Check.
76. Wait.
77. Say goodnight to the other half who says it should be done soon.
78. Wait.
79. Check.
80. Retrieve bowls.
81. Wait. 
82. Check and CELEBRATE with a little dance.
83. Strain noodles.
84. Dump noodles into crock pot.
85. Stir.
86. Use ladle to fill bowls.
87. Make sure to leave some inthe crock pot for sampling.
88. Close bowls.
89. Place in fridge.
90. Grab spoon.
91. Eat what’s left in the crock pot.
92. Rinse out crock pot.
93. Get on Facebook.

Wait, was that too complicated?

I guess you could always try the short version:

Easy Chicken Noodle Soup (Unless You Do Something Dumb Like Me...)
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Easy Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup
Ingredients
  • 6 lbs of Chicken Thighs
  • 1 Small Onion Chopped
  • ½-3/4 bag of Julienne Carrots
  • Chicken Bouillon or Chicken Broth or Chicken Stock
  • Pepper, Salt, Italian Seasoning, Garlic Powder to Taste
  • Water
  • Noodles
Instructions
  1. Place frozen chicken thighs into crock pot. Add all other ingredients to the crockpot - seasonings are added to your taste.
  2. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
  3. Cook Noodles of your choice.
  4. Combine and Serve.