Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cheese Bread

Review by Lyndee:
We had a loaf of French bread leftover from the holidays and god forbid this carb lover waste bread! Here’s a simple recipe for cheese bread.  It takes less than 10 minutes and just a few ingredients. 


Ingredients
French loaf (sliced)
Butter or margarine
Italian seasoning
Garlic powder
Shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Slice the bread into pieces.  Lay a piece of tinfoil over a cookie sheet. Butter both sides of the bread.  Sprinkle the top with garlic powder and Italian seasoning.  Add some shredded cheese. I used monterey jack and cheddar because it was open in the fridge but you can do mozzarella, parmesan, or whatever you have available or like.  Bake for 8 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.  Eat plain or with a side of marinara, ranch or alfredo.  I like to sprinkle some parmesan and red pepper flakes on top of mine. 


Bulgogi (Korean BBQ beef)

Review by Lyndee:
My husband is Korean and always talks about great food like pho, bulgogi and kimchi. He’s been promising to make me some and last week, we finally had bulgogi.  It was AMAZING! I can’t really put into words how great this was.  I loved it. It was easy and literally melted in your mouth.  He’s not great at measuring so we estimated the amounts below. 

1 pound Flank steak
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp minced garlic minced
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp ginger
A dash of black pepper
A splash of white cooking wine

Thinly slice the steak and marinate for at least an hour. Grill just a few minutes per side. (You can pan fry if don't have a grill but don't use oil). Sear it on each side.  Eat plain or serve with rice.  We did fried rice and it was one of the best meals ever.     

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Caramel apple cheesecake dip (healthified)

Review by Lyndee:

Ingredients 
2 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese (I used reduced fat)
1 cup caramel ice cream topping, chilled (I used Smuckers sugar/fat free)
1 store bought graham cracker pie crust, crumbled (or use ½ a package of graham crackers crushed)
Red and green apples (cored and sliced)
Optional: a bit of cinnamon (about 1/4 tsp) and a few dashes of nutmeg mixed in.  

Directions
Place cream cheese in a mixing bowl and using an electric mixer, whip cream cheese until smooth and fluffy for about 1 minute. Stir in caramel ice cream topping. Break graham crackers into pieces and place pieces in a ziploc bag, then seal bag and using a rolling pin crush until finely broken (there should no longer be chunks). Serve with apple slices.  Dip apple slices into caramel cheesecake dip then into broken graham cracker crust. Store cheesecake dip in refrigerator up to one week.

Rather than have people dip into the dip and then the graham crackers, I mixed my graham crackers in so that every bite was like apple cheesecake.  This went over very well at Christmas.  It is super easy to make.  Literally, it takes less than 5 minutes.  It was very good and a bit healthier than the normal dips I whip up filled with cheese and bacon.  

Charleston cheese dip


Review by Lyndee:
When it comes to family get togethers, I’m kind of the dip master, if you will.  The Crab Rangoon dip I made for Thanksgiving was a huge hit so I knew the bar was set high for the Hageman Christmas.  I decided to try this Charleston cheese dip.  Its cheese and bacon, how can one go wrong, really? 

Ingredients
1/2 - cup mayonnaise
1 - 8oz package cream cheese, softened
1 - cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 - cup grated Monterey jack cheese
2 - green onions, finely chopped
Dash of cayenne pepper
8 - Ritz crackers, crushed
8 - slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, Monterey jack cheese, green onions and cayenne pepper.

Transfer the mixture to a shallow baking dish. Top mixture with cracker crumbs and bake for 15 minutes, or until heated through.

Remove the pan from the oven and top with the bacon. Serve immediately with corn chips, bagel chips or crackers.  I used Ritz Garlic crackers and it was divine! This dip was so delicious and warm and fun.  It was gobbled up immediately and I had another hit on my hands. 

Overnight French Toast


Review by Lyndee:
We had this at my mom’s for Christmas brunch.  It was yummy and easy to make up the night before so there was no hassle the next day except to throw it in the oven. 

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup margarine
2 tsp cinnamon
18 slices French bread (you could use regular bread too)
3 cups milk
6 beaten eggs
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Melt brown sugar, margarine and cinnamon in a pan. Lay some of the bread slices in bottom of a well greased 9x13 pan. Drizzle part of the butter mixture over bread, add more bread and repeat, ending with drizzle mixture.  Mix remaining ingredients and pour over bread.  

You can store this in the fridge overnight or do it up the morning of.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, covered, then 15 minutes uncovered.   

This is great to make for a group if you don't want to spend the entire morning over a griddle making traditional french toast.  

Peppermint kiss cookies

Review by Lyndee:
I wanted to make cookies Wednesday night, knowing I was probably going to be snowed in from the blizzard on Thursday.  I had some peppermint kiss candies on hand and so all I needed was a tube of sugar cookie mix.  Making these couldn’t be easier. 

Roll sugar cookie dough into small balls and set in a mini muffin tin. 

Bake 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees.  While baking, unwrap 48 kisses.  


Remove the cookies from the oven and stick a kiss upside down in the cookie.  Let cool for a few minutes and remove from tin, placing on wax paper.  Repeat. 

Cheap, super easy and they turned out really delicious.  


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy holidays!!

Happy holidays from the ladies of TT123!!! We hope your days are blessed with the love of family and friends, some great food and wonderful DIY gifts from the heart. We will have many postings for you this week.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thanks for Helping me Bloom!

 
The kids go to a great childcare facility, and their teachers love them and care for them just like I would like someone to when I'm not at work.  But, there's lots of them, six exactly, that really take part in the kids' days, not just one.  At Christmastime, I'd love to get them a little something to say thank-you without breaking the bank too much.  So, I decided to go DIY.  So, I made a glass ornament filled with wildflower seeds. 



Here's what you'll need:
  • Some seeds (I used a box of wildflower seeds that comes in a box.)
  • Glass ornaments.
  • Whatever else you'd like to decorate the bulb (tags, ribbon, etc.)


 

first, I funnelled seeds into the glass bulb.  Then, I created a cute little tag on the bulb that read, "Thanks for helping me bloom this year!"  And, then signed the kids' names on each tag.  On the back of the tag, I wrote a personal note to each teacher and told them they can spread the seeds wherever they'd like to add a little cheer come this Spring!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Reindeer Rapping


Found this idea for wrapping a child’s gift on Pinterest.  Here’s what the Pinterest picture looked like:
For this project, I thought I’d try and make it using what I had around the house:
  • ·         Pipe cleaners
  • ·         Brown lunch bags
  • ·         Construction Paper
  • ·         Sharpie Marker

And, here’s what I was able to come up with.  Very simple, and I think it gives a little Christmas uniqueness to the gifts sitting under the tree.  And, it gives that little one a little extra fun opening gifts on the big day.
 Just FYI, I only used one pipe cleaner and bent it to make the antlers.  Maybe next time I'll use two pipe cleaners and twist together (at the ends) so that more antlers stick out the ends to bend.

All Guys Like a Nice Rub

I think guys are the hardest to shop for.  Or, maybe we just put too much pressure on ourselves (as women) to find just the right gift.  This year, I decided to do without the pressure and prepare a gift that will work for all the guys on my shopping list this year.  Thankfully, I found a common trait among them and was able to set up an assembly line in my kitchen creating their gifts.

Does your guy like to grill?  Mine does.  So, I made some meat rubs (for chicken, pork and beef) to give at Christmas.  I found great little concoctions via a website identifying great Father’s Day gift ideas (www.handjobsforthehome.com/2011/06/diy-bbq-rubs/).  Hand Jobs For the Home – that IS the name of the website – sounds kind of dirty --  haha!!

She has three recipes all written out and tested for you.  All you need to do is go to the store and purchase some canning jars.  I found that these 8 oz jars fit the rubs perfectly. 
Next, find your measuring cups and spoons.

Then, figure out what you already have on your spice rack.  Go to the grocery store, and pick up the remaining spices.  In these recipes, I found no weird, unknown spices that were hard to find, and everything is something I’m familiar with the taste, so no surprises. 

So, here’s my finished product.  I used the labels that came with the jars and just wrote “Oink”, “Moo”, or “Cluck” on each of the corresponding rubs.  This one was a fun project and one that I’m excited to give the guys in my life!

Peanut butter smudgies

Review by Lyndee:

I’ve really been trying to watch my food intake with holiday season in full swing. I found this recipe for smudgies on a fitness website and thought it sounded yummy.  It was very similar to the peanut butter ice cream I had made and I figured this would be a great sweet snack and portion controlled. 


2 ripe bananas
2 tbsp natural or reduced fat peanut butter
8 graham crackers

Mix the bananas and peanut butter until smooth.  Spread onto a graham crackers square and cover with another square. 



Wrap in foil and freeze for at least six hours. 

These were easy to make. Although, my filling was much more than 8 graham crackers. I think I ended up using 10 or 11.  I made the mistake of stacking them on the foil when I froze them so I had to kind of pry them apart to eat.  



They are good.  My only thing is they are a little too graham crackery for me.  I could save the carbs and extra calories by just having a small bowl of the peanut butter ice cream instead.  But if you like graham crackers this is a fun, frozen snack, again with portion control if you just have one square a night.    

Healthified pumpkin brownies


Review by Lyndee:
I decided to try a healthified brownie recipe last night.  It sounded simple enough.  Take one family size box of brownies and instead of eggs or oil, add one can of pumpkin.  I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin but I figured it was worth a try since I don’t like black beans but love black bean brownies.  I also picked grabbed a bottle of sugar and fat free caramel syrup to drizzle on the top.


1 box brownie mix
1 can pumpkin
1 bottle Smuckers sugar free caramel topping

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix the brownie and pumpkin together in a bowl.  Add about 2 tablespoons of the caramel.  Spread into a greased 9x13 pan.  Drizzle some more caramel across the top.  Bake for 25-30 minutes. 


The smelled great but I didn’t love the taste. The pumpkin was pretty prominent and I didn’t like it.  Perhaps if I added a cream cheese frosting or something but then, it defeats the purpose of healthified.  I’m going to set these out at work for others to try.  Maybe those that enjoy pumpkin will be a fan.  I’m just not.  


Monday, December 17, 2012

It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's....My Kid!!!

Okay, this took some time, but I finally finished and now have to report that I am the mother of two little super heros, Bat Man Jack and Super Princess Emma!  In the search for the perfect Christmas gift for my nieces and nephews this year, I decided to make for them super hero capes with matching masks (crowns for the girls).  Here my two little super heros model their finished costumes:
To do this project, I googled and googled until I found a pattern that would work for me.  That means, not too difficult, but cute and durable.  I found the best tutorial at http://www.howdoesshe.com/super-hero-cape/.  She does a great job explaining the pattern, and the collar uses velcro to fasten instead of tieing a string (which I think is a bit safer).  

Once the cape was sewn, I needed to find an emblem for the back.  I made these out of felt.  I googled the batman emblem, and just "eye-balled" it when cutting and designing Batman's logo.  For Emma's, I free-handed the lightning bolt and her first initial.  I sewed the initial on top of the bolt before sewing it onto the cape.  I used my sewing machine to sew onto the cape by outlining the emblem.

Lastly, it was time for the masks and crowns.  I made these out of matching felt as well (to match the emblem).  I found great templates for these via www.firstpalette.com.   I just printed the templates that they had on their site and traced them onto my felt (http://www.firstpalette.com/tool_box/printables/superhero.html).  When creating the masks, I doubled them up with two pieces of felt to make them more durable.  I used elastic to wrap around the head, and affixed the elastic my sewing it.  I sewed around the border of the mask/crown, and then sewed around the eye-holes.  Then, I just trimmed it up to make it look nice, and I was ready to make my kids super-heros. 

They loved them more than I thought they would!  I can't wait to give them as gifts.  I would love to make more of these -- so much fun -- I just have to find some future superheros to make them for.

Christmas Cookies -- Keep It Simple Sweetheart!

I wouldn't say I hate to bake, I rather like baking and the sweet reward that comes with doing it!  However, as a mom to a three and a four year old, it's hard to keep them interested, let alone clean, with a big project like making Christmas cookies.  So, I have some tips for making this a wonderful experience for your family that ends with happy kids and mom, as opposed to mom ripping out her hair and two kids sitting in timeout.

First, and most importantly, do not mess with making up the cookie dough yourself.  It takes too much time, it's more of a mess than you need to deal with (dishes, flour everywhere and on everyone, etc.).  Instead, buy the dough from your local grocery store's dairy shelf.  Pillsbury has a nice affordable sugar cookie dough tube, and that's what I use.  I've also seen some cookies that are already cut-out for you and all you have to do is bake and decorate.
Since the kids are into cutting out the cookies, I bought the dough, and then rolled it out, and had the kids cut out the shapes.
We put those cookies in the oven and baked per the package instructions.
When the cookies were cool, it was time to decorate.  Again, keep it simple, especially when dealing with the younger kids.  Instead of creating frosting in all different colors -- just do white.  I repeat, just do white.  Your cookies will come out looking nice and clean, and not a brown color due to mixing of colors by your little artistic helpers.  The decorating part comes with sprinkles.  Purchase a few different kinds and colors, and the kids will have just as much fun with those sprinkles as they would different colors of frosting.  This is easier for you, too.
Keep it simple, sweetheart!  This time of year is to enjoy and spend time having fun with the ones you love.  Don't find yourself stressed out with a messy kitchen.

Super easy and cheap holiday gift


Holiday Gift

Review by Lyndee:

We don’t buy gifts for all 17 people in my immediate family.  We get for our parents and the kids draw names.  But this year I had an idea that I wanted to do for my brother, sister and Uncle Mark too.  It was easy to make, cheap to produce and all it took was a little time and love. I’ve done a few of these before but these are the ones I did for the family for Christmas. 

Head to the dollar store and buy a few plates.  Sharpie on your favorite saying, last name, team emblem, etc.  Anything you want! Bake the plate for 30 minutes at 200 degrees. The little circles I used to decorate?  I took an empty toilet paper roll, dipped it in the black paint and pressed it onto the plate.  For the yellow I used an old toothpaste cap and did the same. 


Hotchata

Review by Lyndee:

It was a super busy weekend and I was looking for something sweet, warm and relaxing last night for my late night snack.  Rather than dive into the cookies my grandma had sent home with Rob I decided to make a warm drink concoction and boy am I glad that I did.  I pulled out my handy bottle of Rumchata and again found a delicious drink.

1 packet hot chocolate mix
¾ cup of milk
1 shot Rumchata


Add milk to mug and microwave until desired temperature.  Stir in hot chocolate mix and 1 shot of Rumchata.  Sit down, throw your feet up and enjoy.  

Honey Garlic Chicken


Review by Lyndee:
I love things I can make in the crockpot and I'm a big fan of chicken.  After a weekend of not so healthy eating and celebrating the holidays with my family back home, my body was craving something warm and delicious last night.  

1 package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 c soy sauce
1/2 c ketchup
1/2 c honey
salt & pepper to taste

Cut your chicken breasts in half, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in bottom of crock pot.


Mix garlic, soy sauce, ketchup, honey and basil in a bowl and stir.  Add mixture to crock pot. 

Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours (mine actually cooked in about 2 hours on high, but these are what the original recipe recommends). Remove chicken from crock pot and transfer to covered plate to keep warm.  Reduce the sauce in a pot until thickened to desired consistency. Serve sauce over chicken.  


I didn't reduce the sauce. I just spooned it over the chicken directly from the crockpot.  Sure, it was a little runny but that didn't really phase me.  My chicken was a little done and I only had it on high for 2 hours. It wasn't bad but could've been juicier.  So I added a slice of pepper jack cheese to the top and served it with corn.  This would make great pulled chicken sandwiches.  The only reason I didn't do that is I was trying to come out of my weekend carb coma so I opted to skip the bun.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tornado Strikes Gingerbread Village

I've never made a gingerbread house in my life.  Gingerbread has never appealed to me, and it looked like it would be too much money wasted on a bunch of candy and frosting that I really didn't need.  But....throw two kids into the mix and a mom who'll do anything to keep them occupied for at least fifteen minutes, and a gingerbread house looks quite appealing!!

As I did my daily perusing of Pinterest, I found this cute little DIY gingerbread house idea using graham crackers and frosting (via http://kellymoorebag.com/blog/?p=8923).  Oh Kelly, how you made such cute little houses -- I thought I would make mine look just like your little gingerbread homes.

I have graham crackers up the wazoo in my cupboard.  I cut them as Kelly suggested.  I purchased some candy for decorations, whipped up my easy-peasy powdered sugar frosting and we were set.  This was gonna be so much fun...or so I thought...
 Oh, the importance of reading the directions CAREFULLY!!!  As Kelly suggests, I should have used a "gluier" frosting, not my little homemade concoction.  Our gingerbread houses kept collapsing, and the kitchen table looked like the aftermath of a Christmas tornado.  If anything stood it was because we formed it into a cube shape since house shapes did not last for more than thirty seconds before collapsing.
My daughter was frustrated at the process and opted to make a gingerbread house sandwich.
So, my one suggestion to make this a success is to use "Royal Icing", or use a frosting that is made with egg whites (not powdered sugar).
Here is Jack's house, it was the closest we came to a real gingerbread house and it lasted about a whole minute.
I think I'll try this one again (maybe next year though)...the memories of the Holly Jolly Christmas Tornado are just too fresh yet.