Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Popcorn Surprise

Popcorn Surprise!

 My good friend Teenah at do it my way, or else  turned me on to this recipe over Easter weekend. She called it "Easter Bunny Snack Mix". Obviously, that name wont work year round.

Teenah asked her family that had tried it for name suggestions and they said it was so good, it was like Bunny Crack. Hmmm... not so kid appropriate. Not to mention the fact that I posted that I was making Bunny Crack on Facebook on Sunday and my mom turned it into some traumatizing demented thing I was making with real bunnies. So, that name went out the door.

Since this recipe has many variations and you can change the ingredients to your liking, I decided to call it Popcorn Surprise since what you get could always be a surprise.

Old Fashioned Whirley Pop
Teenah's recipe, and all the variations I am seeing all over Pinterest, call for microwave popcorn. However, I love - do you hear me LOVE - popcorn popped on the stove in my old fashioned Whirley Pop. Sure, it took a little longer than throwing a bag in the microwave would have, but for me it was worth the extra step(s).

The Recipe

The Popcorn
1/3  cup popcorn kernals
1 Tbsp Orville Redenbacher's Popping & Topping Buttery Flavor Popcorn Oil (I'm pretty sure any oil would work.)
2 Tbsp butter
Lightly salt

Put all the ingredients into the Whirley Pop, turn on the stove to meduim-high heat (we have electric stove so I turned mine on about 6), and slowly crank the handle until popping slows/ceases. Immediately remove from heat and put into large mixing bowl.

OR, just throw a bag of popcorn in the microwave and pop according to the directions.

The Surprise
1 heaping cup of pretzels
1 cup M&Ms
Anything else you may like - Peanuts, Reece's Pieces, almonds, dried fruit - whatever you fancy.
1 cup White Chocolate Chips (melt for coating)

After popping the popcorn, add all your surprise ingredients to the popcorn. In a perfect world, I would own a double boiler and that would be how I would have melted the white chocolate chips, but I don't have a double boiler so I read about how to melt white chocolate and it went in the microwave.

Melting the white chocolate
Put no more than 1 cup into a glass bowl. Change your microwave power to 5 and microwave for 30-seconds. Stirring after each 30-second interval until the white chocolate chips are melted.

Pour the melted white chocolate over the popcorn and surprise ingredients and gently stir so the white chocolate coats the ingredients. Spread over a wax lined cookie sheet and put it in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to allow it to harden.  

Since I had just made my Cinnamon Chocolate Banana Cake recipe on Saturday (not to mention the SIL baked two sweet goodies too), I decided we didn't need all this yummy goodness in the house. So, I bagged it up and took it to work with me. It's been a hit as far as I can tell. No one has brought it back and complained yet, so that's a good sign, right? ;o)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Pasta Primavera

I have made this recipe three times now. I liked it the first time, loved it the second time, and was disappointed the third time. I'm not sure why... maybe because I didn't use chicken? I can't remember if I used it the other times. I'm not really sure. Even though I wasn't happy with it this last time, I still recommend the recipe. For a Weight Watchers meal it really is pretty good.

The Recipe

1.5 lbs of think asparagus
1 cup matchstick-cut carrots (I didn't use these)
Medium sized sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced (I didn't use these either - instead I cut up some bell peppers and threw them in for flavoring.)
1 tsp bottled minced garlic (I used Dorot Frozen Garlic cubes)
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 pint grape tomatoes (Watch these closely, they start exploding!)
2 cups sliced rotisserie chicken breast
3/4 cup whipping cream
2/3 cup shaved fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450.

Snap off tough ends of asparagus and cut asparagus into 2-inch pieces. Combine asparagus, and next three ingredients in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss gently to coat. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes or until veggies begin to brown. Stir veggies, add tomatoes, and cook 5 minutes.

While the vegetables roast, cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain well. reserving 1/3 cup pasta water. Keep pasta and reserved water warm.

Combine Chicken, veggies, pasta. reserved pasta water, and whipping cream; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.

Points: 7
Yields: 8 servings
Serving size: 1 1/4 cups
Per serving: CAL 318 (39% from fat); FAT 13.7g (sat fat 7.2g); PRO 20.9g; CARB 27.8g; CHOL 67mg; IRON 2.6mg; SOD 434 mg; CALC 181mg

The Review

Even though I wasn't in love with it this time, I am sure I will make it again. It's not the best as leftovers so I recommend having it when you are feeding guests so you can eat as much as possible in the first sitting.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mexican Shells

I originally found this recipe on... wait for it... PINTEREST!! My friend Lindsi commented and said her and her family tried them and they were yummy! So.... I finally tried them.

Scroll to the bottom for the more appetizing picture.

The Recipe

1 lb. ground beef
1 package low-sodium taco seasoning (or better yet use this Taco Seasoning!)
4 oz. cream cheese
14-16 jumbo pasta shells
1.5 cup salsa
1 cup taco sauce (This is a smooth, tomato based sauce found in the Mexican section)
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup monterey jack cheese
3 green onions
Sour cream

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a frying pan cook ground beef; add taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions.  Add cream cheese, cover and simmer until cheese is melted. Blend well. Set aside and cool completely.  While ground beef is cooking, cook the pasta shells according to directions; drain. Set shells out individually on cutting board/baking sheet so that they don’t stick together.

Pour salsa on bottom of 9×13 baking dish.  Stuff each shell with the meat mixture. Place shells in 9×13 pan open side up. Cover shells with taco sauce.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add shredded cheese and bake for 10-15 more minutes, with the foil removed.  Top with any condiments you’d like (green onions, black olives, etc.) Serve with sour cream and/or more salsa.

The Review

I really enjoyed this dish and this recipe. I followed the recipe except for topping the shells with green onions. Unfortunately, I think this recipe was a little spicy for K, not to mention too much red sauce for her tummy to tolerate. So as delicious as this recipe was, I will have to put it in the reserves for a time when we have company or I am willing to make something else for K to eat.

MMMMM! Looks good!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cinnamon Chocolate Banana Cake

Last time I went to the doctor, I was told I was lacking some nutrient you get from Cinnamon. She said eat a lot of it... put it on everything you can. I wonder if eating cinnamon in recipes like this counts? If so, I will get my fair share of cinnamon in my diet!

I found this recipe from a blog I read regularly, The Idea Room.

The Recipe:

1 cup butter  
1 cup sugar
2 ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 dash salt
3 cups flour
1 pint sour cream (2 cups) or vanilla yogurt (I used sour cream)

Blend butter, sugar, bananas, eggs and vanilla. Add remaining ingredients. 
In separate bowl make the filling.

1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbs. cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional) (Normally I would leave these out, but I used a little this time)
1 cup chocolate chips (optional) (I used mini chocolate chips)

Layer batter and filling twice in a 9X13 dish. Bake 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.

* Sometimes the middle of the cake needs to bake longer.  If so, put foil over the cake after the 45 minutes and bake it for another 5 minutes.  Test with a toothpick in the middle to see if the batter sticks to it, if it comes out clean…the cake is finished.

The Review

YUM! Next time I will definitely leave out the nuts. (I end up picking them out anyway.) I think I must have been unsure how far the filling would go because I used it sparingly in the first layer and then over did the top layer. I think next time I will go heavy on the filling and light on the topping.

I think I could have cooked it a little longer, but I didn't have toothpicks to make an accurate check so I just guessed. I'm not really sure if it's undercooked or just a little gooey from the bananas. Speaking of bananas, I might put in one more next time.

Overall the cake was awesome. K enjoyed it too. I still liked my Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting better, but this cinnamon cake is not as dense as that one and is a little bit easier to make.

Friday, May 18, 2012

It Finally Happened to Me

We've all seen it. Those absurd text messages that claim to be autocorrect gone wrong. Well, today... it finally happened to me.

The back story:

My awesome mom is 73 years old, on Facebook and Pinterest, has a Nook color, a smart phone, and loves to play Words with Friends. She's pretty impressive with her technology skills.

Anyway, I play Words with Friends with her regularly. In fact, she's the only one I play on a regular basis. All the other games sometimes go days without a move from me, but I know how much she enjoys playing so I make it a point to play her. Not to mention playing Words is also how I know she's still alive and kicking. Horrible to say, I know, but otherwise I'd have to call and check on her every day. Now I can check on her without her really knowing and without driving us both crazy.

Back to the story... the nightly routine is we play back and forth pretty consistently and then all of a sudden it just stops. It feels so... abrupt. Like being hung up on in the middle of a conversation.

So, I texted my mom last night:

Me: Going forward... I would like for you to say good night when you play your last Words turn. K? K, thanks.

Mom (this morning): Why? It's not your bedtime.

Oh, I forgot to mention that my mom is and can be quite the smart ass.

So I say: I know, but I am anxiously anticipating your sexy move and then it doesn't happen.

Mom: That is sick to say your mother is sexy!

*Crinkled brow, scratching my head.* What?! *Re-read text*

Me: Damn autocorrect! LMAO I am dying!!!

That was supposed to say, I am anxiously anticipating your NEXT move, not sexy move. It was hilarious. I couldn't even tell K what had happened at first because I was laughing so hard.

This -- was priceless. I absolutely adore my mom and these are the moments with her that I cherish! 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Auntie Bear

We've all heard that saying about a momma bear protecting her cubs. Is there such a thing as an Auntie Bear?

Photo borrowed from internet.
I have no kids of my own. I would love to have them one day, but right now I just love everyone else's and then give them back to their rightful owners when I tire of them. I may just be an Aunt, but boy do I understand that Momma Bear instinct.

I'll never forget the first time my sister shared with me the story of my oldest nephew's first broken heart. I had tears streaming down my face and it even chokes me up thinking about it right now. I hate seeing loved ones hurt at any age, but there is something about watching someone you love have to learn those first lessons in heartbreak we've all learned at some point in our lives.

And now, my other nephew appears to be going through it. I don't like it. Not one bit! 

Here's how it went:

Sunday afternoon: I talk to my sister who tells me that my nephew has been "hanging out" with a girl, but they aren't dating. They want to take things slow. She's supposed to come over that night and take him out to dinner for a belated birthday dinner.

Sunday 5:48pm: Facebook post from my nephew - "When you cant wait for the moment to come and then it's cancelled a half hour before it happens." Dislike! 

Monday evening: I talk to my sister again. "She better have had a good excuse, I say." My sister tells me she did and she ended up coming over later that night with a present for him. Ok fine. We'll let this one slide.

Wednesday 7:44pm: Facebook post from my nephew - "High school relationships... Haha why do we even try?"  Dislike again, but I think... How wise of him. I'm pretty sure I never thought something like that in high school!

And then today, 2:27pm: Facebook post from my nephew - "Now you're just somebody that I used to know..." Did you hear it too? The breaking of his heart and the cracking of mine? Ugh!
I responded to him, ">:o( Dislike again! Do I need to come up there??"
His response? "Guess so...:(" Did you hear that again? That was my heart actually breaking! Not just cracking!

That Auntie Bear comes out in me! I just want to take all the kids I love into my "den", heal their sweet little hearts, and be able to promise them they'll never have to go through it again. But we all know that's not possible.

I don't know how all you parents are able to sit back and let your kids go through their life's lessons without over protecting them and more so - without kicking the asses of the people that hurt them!  The part of me that thinks I'm a bad ass comes out and wants to go find the person and.... and what? Give them dirty looks? Lord knows I could never physically hurt someone. Perhaps I could tear them down verbally, but then I would probably turn around and start crying because I felt so bad for saying the things I said. LOL I would never do anything of the sort, but man does it infuriate me!

I truly don't know how parents do it though! It makes me question my ability to be a parent. If I feel so passionately about it as an Auntie that I want to get in my car and drive 8 hours to get to my nephew, I can't imagine how his mom feels about it. Now I understand why my mom was the way she was when I had a bad friend or crappy partner.

I guess it's a good thing I live 8 hours away from my nephew. It gives the girl an 8 hour lead to either start running, or change her mind and make it right.