Orange Bar Cookies

i have been so busy trying to keep my sanity that I haven’t been taking pics of all the awesome and yummy stuff i’ve been making, case in point these orange bar cookies 😦 😦 😦 i wanted you to see the yummy goodness, the visual appeal of these citrusy sweets.

anyway. got this recipe from the man i got the vanilla from! they have this awesome website where you can buy their products, and they give you recipes to use them ! how nice right ?!! (btw their almond pound cake with the almond frosting is as the french say “magnifique” 

http://www.mannixvanilla.com/Orange-Bar-Cookies.html

orange bar

I basically did everything the recipe said, except I baked mine in a mini cupcake tray and in a mini square silicone mold. only took about 20 mins. i like that this way they all have some of that little crusty goodness along with the slightly chewy center.

if you don’t have vanilla infused orange extract, im sure you could use regular orange extract, or a mix of both orange and vanilla extract and they would still be yummy.

cookie tip: if your cookies get a little hard, put them in a tupperware with a slice of bread. the bread will get hard while your cookies get soft again !

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Italian Chicken

So I did my meal prep this past Sunday, and had my friend over for dinner and somehow all my meal prepped food is gone 😦 It was so good that it just disappeared. No but really. ( I think the amount of chicken I made also didn’t make as much as I had anticipated so that didn’t help either. )

And today I went to the gym and had to run to Target after and pick up some Pedialyte (have you tried their brand pedialyte? it’s a tad bit less expensive and the orange one smells really good!) So by the time I finally made it home I was already pretty tired, and she was kind of cranky cause she’s a little under the weather so I needed a quick dinner option that would last til at least lunch tomorrow.

I am a big fan of the Knorr Pasta Sides, they are always on sale like for a $1 and make a great quick side but I am not always pleased with their reheat consistency. I also really like the Zatarrin’s Rice Sides. Especially the yellow rice one ❤ ❤ ❤

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I threw the yellow rice on the stove and it cooks in like 20 mins, and then I cut up some chicken I had thawed out this morning and cooked it in some olive oil and garlic. After the sides were all cooked I poured Italian dressing and Italian seasoning on it. It’s also nice to marinate in the dressing for a bit prior but like I said I was pressed for time here. (I think someone told me once to try adding cut pineapple in it as well but I always forget when I go to make this dish) After adding the dressing I cook the chicken til it gets a really nice golden brown color.

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And 15-20 mins later.. Voila! dinner is done. No hassle, well not so much. and quick and yummy. Plus leftovers for tomorrow.

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What do you do when you need a quick dinner option?

Holiday Cheer- Christmas Cards

Had a friend over for dinner Sunday night and she asked what Pinterest projects had I been up to.

Really I have just been more into baking and redecorating for this holiday season. But she reminded me that I was slacking on my crafting.Yeah I made a few paper snowflakes, but nothing major. We talked about how doing crafty things kind of helped keep our sanity especially while our men are away. She told me she’s been doing ribbon wreaths and she showed me a few, and they were beautiful! When she told me she’s done about 7 I was laughed because a home really only needs 1, so she told me the others she’s been giving away. I started thinking about other crafts I could do, because I shouldn’t be baking everyday, it just wouldn’t be good for my waistline 🙂

So I busted out my arts and crafts bins and got to some card making. Tis the season after all.

All of these were super easy. I used random buttons, acrylic paint, glue, some scrap ribbons, and letter stickers.

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Creole Chicken

Creole Chicken.

This was one of the first recipes that I made for my dad and brother when they came to visit me back in college. I was renting an apartment with my friend and they came to visit and I felt like such a big girl cooking for my dad lol. Normally it’s the parents that provide food and shelter, but that weekend they were staying at my house and eating food that I prepared so I felt compelled to make sure it was good. (I think I got the inspiration from an app called allrecipes ? can’t be sure but thanks!)

CREOLE CHICKEN

(some chicken! I used chicken breast tenderloins this time)

14 oz diced tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

2 cloves minced garlic

1/4 cup cup onion

Red pepper flakes

Basil

Parsley

Salt & Pepper

Chili sauce (found in the aisle near the marinara?)

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Cut the chicken into strips on chunks.

Heat a skillet on medium to high, coat the bottom with some olive oil when the skillet gets hot. Throw in the onions and garlic and cook til translucent.

Brown the chicken chunks. (Chicken chunks? that doesn’t sound appetizing but I promise it is)

Toss in the rest of the ingredients and let it simmer for like 15-20 mins.

Serve with some white rice.

Enjoy.

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Holiday treats -pretzels

Not only do I have a fun stand mixer I also have come into some vanilla, like some gooood vanilla extract the kind you don’t find in the store and have to ask someone to get for you. Not only that, I have some gooood almond extract. So with those ingredients what’s a girl to do? BAKE!!! [ I know you had to see that coming 🙂 ]

And it’s the holidays so why not? I’ve got a number of people that I would like to show my appreciation for so baking it will be. Nothing says I appreciate you more than me throwing on my apron and whipping you up something to make your soul happy, or at the very least your tummy. I think the effort of doing it yourself makes it taste better too.

With that being said, I’ve started off my holiday treat making with a easy but well loved treat. Chocolate covered pretzels. Seriously easy and everyone can’t get enough !

I found this super cute mold to make it look like wrapped boxes made of chocolate but practice makes perfect with molds like these. You have to make sure the chocolate is the right consistency or else it will be hard to use in the mold. Honestly when I tried to pry them out a lot of chocolate stayed back soooo I think my consistency was too thick. I tried to be fancy and do the ribbons in a different color but that was a little tough too.

pretzels

These other types I’ve had in mind since last year, and only recently I figured out a way to accomplish them:

Chocolate covered, candy cane dusted pretzels !!

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Last year I couldn’t figure out an easy way to break the candy canes. I tried freezing them to make them more brittle, I put them in a bag, covered that with a towel and tried a hammer but really the pieces were way too big to use for my purpose. So I ended up just crisscrossing red and white chocolate lines over top of the regular chocolate. They came out super cute but didn’t have that extra little something that the canes would have offered.

This time around I read somewhere, probably Pinterest, to use a food processor or coffee grinder. DUHHHHHH.  My poor coffee grinder that had been sitting collecting dust in a cabinet, neglected by me as I had no good coffee beans to grind, now found purpose ! I broke the canes up into maybe 3 or 4 pieces and grinded them up into a coarse dust and small pieces. And after melting and applying the chocolate to the canes I just sprinkled the cane dust on it lightly. I probably could have rolled the canes in the dust but then I would have needed to have more ground up canes, and I just didn’t have the energy to do all of that.

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Hope everyone enjoys these 🙂

[In case you were wondering I got the cute pretzel treat bags at Joann’s.  They always have a sale on their holiday baking items, so that was good too]

Turkey Lasagna

As stated in my previous post I made lasagna. and they loved it, like they really LOVED IT. they kept getting up to get more, and telling me how good it was. 😀 makes a cooks heart happy. not that I’m a cook but I cook lol…

Kept it pretty simple, just meat and cheesey goodness, with noodles that you don’t have to cook first. (Love these noodles, they make your life easy and that’s not a bad thing. And they are in the same aisle as the other ones, they’re just smaller)

I started first by making the ground turkey/meat sauce.

{I don’t have pics of the process but I’ll tell you what I did and how I layered it and all that.}

What do you need for the lasagna? : turkey/meat sauce, ricotta cheese ( I used 15 oz), parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, and italian 5 cheese, tomato sauce.

 

TURKEY/ MEAT SAUCE

Minced garlic (few cloves)

Minced white onion

Olive Oil

Garlic salt & Black pepper

Italian Seasoning

Garlic powder & Onion Powder

1 lb ground turkey (or 1 lb ground meat)

2 cans 8 oz tomato sauce

 

I turned the stove on, with the pan and let it heat up. Coated the bottom with olive oil, let that get warm. Then I threw in the minced onion and garlic and cooked them til the onion was transculent and the kitchen was smelling amazing. [i love the smell of garlic when it’s being cooked ! <3] I put the ground turkey in and used a spatula to break it up, and cook them til they were brown. (turkey doesn’t get as brown as meat so don’t overcook it lol)

Then I added in the tomato sauce, (I believe I used a basil, oregano and garlic flavor sauce??) and the spices, also maybe 1/4 cup water.  I let all that sit and cook for a few mins, stirring as you go.

Pre heated my oven to 350 F.

Coated the bottom of my lasagna pan with tomato sauce. (The noodles need to be “wet” so I always try to layer under and on top of them with tomato sauce or else they will get very crispy, and not in the good way. I put a layer of noodles.

Put a layer of the meat sauce. Sprinkled mozzarella.

Then I mixed ricotta cheese with parmesan and a little garlic salt and pepper. Put a layer of that (about half of the ricotta mix).

Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce and then another layer of noodles. Put the rest of the meat sauce on top of the noodles.

Sprinkled mozzarella and italian 5 cheese and the rest of the ricotta mix. Sprinkled more parmesan, and thin layer of tomato sauce and then noodles.

Because the noodles need to be “wet” i put a thin layer of tomato sauce on top and sprinkled more parmesan and italian 5 cheese to finish it off.

Cooked it for about 30 mins. Voila.

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One of the girls brought garlic bread so we ate that with it too. 😀

 

Kahlua Frosting

I frosted my rum raisin cupcakes !

[[I hosted my dinner last night and cooked a turkey lasagna(post later) , and served my cupcakes as dessert. They loved it. They kept getting up to get more lasagna and said they really enjoyed the cupcakes, so I was happy, because I did everything from scratch]]

I had big plans for how I wanted to top the cupcakes which included a chocolate ganache filling or small top coat, but with cooking, and hosting, and the time factor it just didn’t happen. there’s always next time.

But this Kahlua frosting did happen. I’m sorry I didn’t take pics of the process 😦

 

KAHLUA FROSTING

3 cups powdered sugar

2 sticks butter softened (its important for it to be softened so it will mix well/easier)

1/4 cup & 1 tsp Kahlua

1 tsp vanilla

 

Put the butter and sugar in first, started whisking it together til I saw a frosting-ish consistency. (start with your mixer on the lowest setting !! or else you will end with powdered sugar everywhere ! lol)

[don’t think you can get this consistency without using a mixer, stand or hand though. unless you want to put that kind of whisking, whipping arm moving effort in, then be my guest]

Slowly added in Kahlua.

Added in vanilla at the end.

 

At first I was ready to frost them because it smelled so good, but the consistency looked off; the butter in it wasn’t ready yet. Dumped it back in the mixer for a little longer, til it really had that whipped look to it.

[I wanted to frost them all pretty like you see fancy bakers do, but whatevs I just put it in a ziploc bag, cut the tip and asked my friend to frost while i handled the dinner cooking. ]

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Holiday Decorations 2014

In my family we celebrate Christmas, and I like to decorate for the holidays. I took down my fall leaves the day after Thanksgiving and started getting my house ready for December festivities.

[If you want to see what I did last year you can find that here: christmas cheer ]

My style of decorating is pretty much stick to a 2 or 3 color scheme and go from there. Last year I did a red and gold theme, and this year I just reused most of what I had, with a few new things. [Baby girl has taken Rudolph as her own so he will not be featured lol]

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my santa keeping watch at the front door

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little frosty hanging out with the fishies

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santa and a nutcracker hanging out on the window bench

christmas tree

The balls are plastic, because I can’t be bothered to worry about glass ones breaking with a young toddler around. The paper snowflakes, in my opinion, add a really festive touch and cost nothing to make. I got one string of tinsel and cut it to fit inside the jars, added some as eye-catching tree filler and used it to make some paper tree cones.

I haven’t done the TV stand yet, might do a garland like last year and put a santa hat on the TV corner. Also need to add some festive decor to my room, but I like what I have so far.

I also like to use some of Bath & Body Works wall flowers. For this time of year I like the frosted cranberry, cinnamon caramel swirl and champagne toast scents to name a few.