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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Influenster/ VoxBox

 Not my usual food/farm blog topics, but I wanted to share a fun program I've been doing recently for freebies and samples. The site is #Influenster (http://www.influenster.com/). I fill out surveys, write reviews and participate in special contests and programs using social media for chances to get samples and win things. I just got my first "Voxbox" of products to try out. Rimmel Scandaleyes full size mascara, Nivea skin firming hydration lotion, Kiss Everlasting French Nails, Playtex Sport tampons and a peach pie air freshener. My favorite sample is the mascara! Love getting free makeup, and this mascara is really nice. I really like the Nivea lotion too. I've been using it for afew days, and it's definitely something that I would pay money for. Free feminine products are always welcome in a house full of girls. Not so sure about press on nails. They weren't a great idea when I was in high school, not super excited about trying that again lol. Maybe they will have improved.
  If anyone would like more info about Influenster, feel free to ask, or give me your email and I will send you an invitation!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Crockpot Queso Mexilini

 The crockpot is generally not my friend. I find most slow cooker recipes to be very disappointing. The "crockpot orange chicken" recipe that was floating around on Pinterest was possibly one of the worst meals I've ever cooked. Of course probably my fault for choosing to pretend that the photo attached to it, which was of tempura orange chicken from a restaurant, would bear any resemblance to a crockpot recipe lol.
  I keep on plugging away at it, because the crockpot is so darn convenient! I came up with this recipe, and I was quite happy with it. The family all gave it thumbs up.  Very quick to put together. Mexican queso blanco cheese can be substituted for the cream cheese, and to make it vegetarian use vegetable broth instead of chicken. Salsa of your choice, so you can choose how spicy you like it

1 lb bag frozen cheese tortellini
16 oz jar salsa (of your choice)
4 oz (1/2 block) cream cheese, chopped in smaller pieces
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup shredded mexican blend cheese



  Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook 6 hours on medium. Garnish with sour cream and additional shredded cheese if desired


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"Cinnabon" clone Cinnamon Rolls

  A friend of mine was recently having trouble with a cinnamon roll recipe and asked for advice (dough wasn't rising). I hadn't made them in years, so decided that it was time for a test run. I chose a Cinnabon clone recipe from Allrecipes I believe, but made some alterations.  Many cinnamon roll recipes call for a bread machine. I had one, but didn't care for the texture of the crust on the bread from a machine, so off to the yard sale it went. I used my Kitchenaid mixer to do most of the kneading of the dough for me, but you could do it all by hand if you would like.

  I like to add a pinch of sugar, brown sugar or honey to my yeast/milk (or water depending on the recipe). Seems to make the yeast proof a little better. Your proofed yeast mixture should look similar to this when it's ready to go

 This is a very stiff dough, and I found that it took a LONG time to rise. I set mine to rise at 12:30, left the house and 2:00 and it wasn't doing much. Returned at 4:00 and it was ready to go. So don't get frustrated if it takes a long time. You can probably even let it rise in the fridge overnight if time is an issue. The second rise, after the dough has been worked and the buns are made, is much faster. About half an hour.
This is what they should look like when you put them in the pan for the second rise
Risen and ready to go into the oven!
Remove from oven when they look like this. Golden brown and ready to ice
The finished product! Makes 12 LARGE buns

Cinnamon Rolls

1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
4 1/2 cups AP flour
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
Frosting:
1/2  package (4 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Combine warm milk and yeast in medium mixing bowl (I like to add a pinch of sugar or brown sugar). Let stand approx 10 minutes, until yeast is foamy

In bowl of electric mixer, add half of the flour, and the yeast mixture. Combine. Then add eggs, salt, and  white sugar. Add in small amounts of the rest of the flour until dough is all mixed

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead into a ball (mixer will have done most of the work for you). Place in bowl sprayed with baking spray. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Set aside to rise

After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.

Roll dough into a 16x21-inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.







Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Banana Berry Waffles

  I've been searching for healthy, easy, make ahead breakfast option to serve to the kids before school, and have been experimenting with my Belgian waffle maker. Waffles freeze really well, and lend themselves to all sorts of flavor combinations. I had ripe bananas and a small amount of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries to use up. Chopped strawberries would work well too. The milk of your choice can be substituted. I like almond milk and it's high in calcium. I chose to use the "white" whole wheat flour, but regular whole wheat can be used if you prefer. This recipe makes 4 large Belgian waffles, which I think of as 8 servings. Easy to freeze and heat up in the toaster oven.




1 cup AP flour
1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 pinch nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup almond milk
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tbsp agave syrup
1 cup assorted berries (chopped if large)

  Preheat waffle iron per manufacturers instructions. Spray with cooking spray.

  In a large bowl, mix flours, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Stir in egg milk, mashed banana and agave syrup. When combined fold in berries.

  Cook batter per waffle iron instructions for amount of batter, until waffles are golden brown and easy to remove from iron.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Vanilla Pumpkin Smoothie

  For Christmas I was given a Ninja blender, which I LOVE. I've been making a lot of smoothies. Pumpkin is one of my favorite superfoods, and it lends itself quite well to smoothies. I tend to like my smoothies on the thick side, so you can add more milk to make it thinner if you prefer.

1 cup canned pumpkin
6 oz vanilla greek yogurt
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 ice cubes
1/2 cup skim or almond milk

Pineapple Pecan Carrot Cake Belgian Waffles

  I find plain waffles to be very dull, so I like to spice them up with different flavors.  The carrot cake flavor in these waffles is subtle enough not to overwhelm (since it is a waffle, not a piece of cake!), but enough to be a change in pace for breakfast or brunch. This recipe makes 4-5 large waffles, and half a waffle is a good serving size.  Serve with maple syrup or powdered sugar. I heat the oven to 200 and place prepared waffles in a baking sheet in the oven to keep them warm while I'm getting everything else ready


2 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1 cup shredded carrots
3 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans

  Preheat Belgian waffle iron per manufacturer instructions, spray with cooking spray.

   In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar and cinnamon. Add in carrots and combine.

  In a medium bowl, combine eggs, vanilla and pineapple. Add to flour mixture and combine. Add milk and pecans and combine again. Ladle manufacturer recommended amount of batter onto waffle iron. Press and bake  until golden brown and easily removed from iron.

 


Monday, October 28, 2013

Banana Split Cheesecake Brownie Bars

A boxed brownie mix makes these delicious bars a breeze to make, and they are something a little different than plain old brownies to take to your next "bring a dessert" event. I garnish with sprinkles for more of a banana split feel, and you can also sprinkle with some chopped peanuts if you'd like. I usually skip the peanuts if I'm bringing these to a public event.





1 box 19 oz box brownie mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
4 eggs, divided
12 oz softened cream cheese (1 1/2 bricks)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
large, ripe banana, mashed (about 1 cup mashed banana)
1/2 cup Seedless Strawberry Jam
1/2 cup chopped peanuts (optional garnish)
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles (optional garnish)

  Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9x13 baking dish with baking spray.
  In a large bowl, combine brownie mix, 1/2 cup oil, 1/4 cup water and 2 eggs. Beat 50 strokes. Pour into prepared pan.
 In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, and the remaining 2 eggs. Beat on medium until combined thoroughly. Add mashed banana and beat again just until combined.
 Pour banana mixture over brownies.
  Drop random small spoons of strawberry jelly on top of banana mixture, Then swirl with a knife.  Sprinkle chopped peanuts and rainbow sprinkles at this time if desired.
  Bake approx 45 minutes, or until pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool, slice and serve.