Monday, January 25, 2016

Apple Cake

How are my easties?  Still under tons of snow?  We might as well have had 3 feet, it has been so blah, cloudy, flurrying, might as well be snow on the ground since it is going to be so gloomy anyway kind of weather.  But ALAS...........  I have brought you CAKE!  Cake makes everything better!

As many of you know, I am not a huge fan of the fruit, all fruit.  Apples are one fruit, I can take.  This recipe came from simply, apples being on sale.   Sometimes that is how recipes happen, I find a good deal, and then I WORK it out!  I don't like fake flavors, and I don't like eating an apple cake that appears to have NO apples at all, whatsoever, in the cake.  This cake should rectify that for anyone who is like me.  I used a cake mix, but if you have a fantastic yellow cake recipe you want to whip up and work into this, get on with your bad self, I was in a cake mix state of mind.

It doesn't matter what kind of apples you use, just use apples.  I know I am supposed to have some technical jargon on why you use this apple for this and that apple for that, but the truth is, I don't care enough to figure that out.  Remember my feelings for the fruit?  The frosting is SAAAAWEET, and the cake is pure bliss.  I doubt the kind of apples you use is going to make the kind of difference some people are looking for in their life.  Sometimes you just have to accept the WHOLE matter its background and just be one, with the apple.

Yellow Cake Mix
Apple Juice
1 T. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 med applies, peeled and cut into whatever size you prefer

4 oz. of cream cheese
2 T. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar
Milk (if needed, my ingredients were VERY soft and I didn't need it)
1 cup chopped nuts of your choice to sprinkle on top (Optional)

Preheat your oven to the temperature recommended on your cake mix, likely 350 degrees F.  Follow directions to mix up the cake mix, EXCEPT use apple juice in place of the water.  Add in cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla, and mix until combined.

Dump in your chopped apples, any apples will do, and mix with a spoon.

Pour into greased 9x13 pan (preferably an old horrible looking one from your childhood that brings you joy) and bake for the recommended amount of time.  If you are not sure if  it is done, stick a toothpick or piece of uncooked spaghetti in the middle, if it comes out clean with no wet batter on it, you are in business.  With the addition of the apples/moisture it may take a couple of minutes longer, so don't be surprised if that happens.

Let cool...........

In your stand mixer or in a mixing bowl, add in all frosting ingredients.  Using the whisk attachment let beat for 3 minutes.  If you are using a stand mixer, mix the same amount of time.  When the cake is cooled, frost it up and dig in!  Enjoy the chunks of apples, the spicy cinnamon and the sweet brown sugar!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Chicken and Rice DOG Food

*adjustments have been made to this recipe based on more education and trial and error!

 WOOF WOOF!  That is "Hey Friends" in dog.  Wow that was one corny start, wasn't it.  Let me try again....

I, in a million years, never considered myself, oh what's the word......"whole food fanatical".  I don't even know if that makes sense.  Essentially I never thought I would be one of THOSE dog moms who made their dogs food.  I mean, seriously?  Then, one night, after we were blessed to become the parents of one "Sofia The Chug", my husband started doing some research on dog food.  We have had dogs before, our beloved Kia and Toby, but we just weren't as fussy back then about their food.  Toby died from cancer so we vowed the next dog we had, we would be more careful about the food it ate.  Not saying at all that the food had anything to do with Toby's illness, but let's face it, have you looked at the ingredients of most dog foods lately?

That being said, after her teeth fell out, and her under bite developed, we knew small kibble food and soft food were going to be the easiest for her to eat.  So we started reading labels.  I mean, we became ridiculous in every store we went to, reading all the labels on the dog food.  You know that food you pay 50+ dollars for?  Yea, it might be no better than the 15 dollar food.  My stomach turned when I researched what some of these ingredients were and could legally be.

We did finally find a brand we deemed acceptable, the first 6 ingredients are all real meat and vegetables and there are no ingredients that set off our OMG radar.  I pay 1.59-1.69 for a 10oz container.  Sofia eats one of these containers a day.  She has some awesome dried dog food we keep filled at all times if she needs more to eat and her little teeny, tiny lamb treats are crunch so she gets that hard food she needs as well.

That being said, today I made a batch of food for her.  If you ever have leftover green beans, or peas or carrots, from a family meal, keep them in a baggie in the freezer and use for this purpose!  I am no expert but I can tell you some good ingredients for dogs, if you want to change something out or concoct your own food that your fur baby will love!  I am sure there are many more but I am going to post only what I am certain of and pertains to food making!  I was so excited that so many of you wanted to see a blog post on this.  Don't mind my obvious "advantage taking" to show you tons of pictures of my baby girl!

Safe For Dogs:
Green Beans
Rice (more of a filler)
Sea Salt (NOT table salt)

This recipe is a simple chicken and rice with veggies that my sweet baby loves.  I make my rice in my rice cooker, but feel free to do it the old fashioned way.  I do not use minute rice for her food.  Personal preference, unless someone knows facts that I am not aware of it is just that, personal preference.  I do still buy some food, for if we run out or maybe she needs a change up.  If we are traveling, etc.  I reuse the containers her food comes in for my homemade food.

Let's get going!  It won't take you long!

2-3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, uncooked
2 carrots diced fine
1/4-1/3 cup peas ( I have since decided I will use green beans instead)
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. rosemary
Sm. sprinkle of sea salt
1 cup cooked rice (or less, this is just filler)

In a medium pot, add enough water to cover the chicken and veggies.  Add all ingredients EXCEPT the rice, and simmer until the chicken is cooked all the way through and the veggies are tender.

The size you cut your vegetables in, will depend on the size of dog you are feeding.   Let cool completely.  Remove chicken and chop, or use your food processor and get it into small pieces.  I just used a knife and chopped like a mad woman.

Add the chicken to a large bowl, strain the veggies, keeping the broth, add the veggies in with the chicken and then add the rice.

Stir to combine, and add about 1/4 cup of the broth into the mixture, let it sit for about 5 minutes, and add more if it sucks it all up, you want their food to be juicy to!  When it is ready, fill clean containers, and store in the freezer.

Remove and defrost before feeding your dog.  Sofia happens to like her food slightly warmed.  (I know, I know, ridiculous)  This will make about 5, 10 oz containers of food.  My cost for 5 would be approx 8.00 if I purchased in the store.  Using ingredients I had on hand, I sort of priced accordingly and I guessed these 5 containers to cost me about 2.00 to make at home.  I know exactly what is going in her tummers, and feel good about what she is eating.

This is not her regular food, this was some leftover chicken soup.  She even likes the broth! 

Enjoy feeding your dog babies food that is good, and good for them, made by the hands of those who love them most!



PS.  Sofia is a "Chug" Chihuahua/Pug mix.  She is almost 8 months old.  She asked me to write this in pink, pink is her signature color.

Monday, January 18, 2016

One Pot Chicken Florentine

One pot.  That got your attention didn't it?  One pot equals, easy, less dishes and we all know we LOATHE doing dishes.  Don't we?

Really, one pot just means easy to me.  And as I mentioned, not tons of dishes.  There is a little prep work, but it is so worth it.  A cutting board, a knife, a measuring spoon, the usual suspects but that is nothing.  You could even serve this in paper/plastic bowls or plates.  Sad isn't it?  Sad that a person (me) who encourages meals at the table, together, families, talking, communicating, laughing, is encouraging hurrying up dinner, with throw away dishes so you can get to your favorite drama of the night.  Oh well, that's me.

This is kind of an all in one, veggie, lean protein, and definitely the heavy cream food group!  I hope you enjoy this quickie! (teehee)  Sorry, that was completely inappropriate, but, hey..........*shrugs*

Make this in a large pot, something with a lid.  TIP: IF you have a ginormous pot that you have no lid for, whether you lost it, broke it, used it as a weapon in a murder case, etc.......use a pizza pan upside down for a lid!

You will need:
1 T. butter
2 lg chicken breasts cut into bite sized chunks, uncooked
1/4 tsp (heaping) minced garlic
3 cups chicken stock
12 oz. bow tie pasta
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup good grated Parmesan cheese
2-3 cups fresh spinach (NOT frozen)
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot melt your butter.  Add in cut up chicken and stir often, until the chicken is nearly cooked through. Add in garlic and pepper and stir for 1 minute.

Pour in the chicken stock, bring a boil and add in pasta.

Cover, and reduce heat to simmer for the time that is suggested on your pasta package.  Now, TWO minutes before the timer goes off, uncover, stir, add in heavy cream and Parmesan cheese and stir to combine.

Stir in spinach.  Keep stirring to wilt the spinach, and when it is wilted shut off the heat.

Add the halved tomatoes and toss.  Let sit for 2-3 minutes before serving.  Serve this with some toasty, roasty, crunch bread!


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2 Bean Chicken Chili

Good evening!  It feels so good to be back in the kitchen, creating, testing, tasting, tasting, and did I mention testing? teehee

I appreciate, again, all of you who have stuck around while I went through a bit of a life pot hole.  Your patience, and love, prayers, good thoughts, have all made a huge impact on not only me, but my family.  I am forever grateful.

Now let's get to this easy, SO easy, and so actually healthy recipe, shall we?  How many recipes of mine can we deem healthy?  Not many, so grab a beverage and read on my friends, read on!

As I mentioned on my Facebook page.  Are you following me there btw?  Just in case you aren't....DO!  
Anyway, as I mentioned there, I hate beans in chili.  OK, total truth?  I hate beans, period.  They are so mushy.  So, just.....unnecessary, aren't they??  Well, we all have opinions, I respect yours, just respect my dreams of the demise of the bean.  I do wish I felt differently and maybe I will do what big kids do, and keep trying them every now and again, maybe my taste buds, or rather mush buds will change.  I mean I did try a bite of this chili and while it is freaking fantastic, those damn beans.  Always getting up in my way of enjoyment.  But in case it matters to you, I feel like you can feel really good about eating tons of this chili.  Lean protein, beans galore, low sodium chicken broth, I mean, we are on a roll here, are we not?

Let's get to it.  You can have this done in 15 minutes, dead serious, but for optimum flavor I would get it done in 15 minutes and then let it simmer for a good 30 to 45 minutes.  I am using canned beans so no need to worry about the rock hard dried beans, taking their sweet time cooking.

You will need:
1 T. butter
1 lb ground chicken (more if you choose)
1 onion (size depends on how much you like onion) medium chop on that baby
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
2 T. chives
1-2 T. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 4 oz can green chilies
2 15.5 oz cans (or something close) large butter beans
2 15.5 oz cans of great northern beans
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
optional-toppings of your choice, cheese, sour cream, avocado, crackers, chips, etc.....

In a large soup pot, melt your butter.  Add in ground chicken, onion and garlic.  Cook until chicken is cooked all the way through and onion is tender.  Stir often as to not burn the garlic.  Add in cumin, chives, and salt, stir to combine.  Now rinse and drain all of your beans.  No need to add the slimy stuff.  Add them, along with the green chilies to your pot and stir.  Pour in chicken stock, stir and let simmer 30 minutes on low.  You could certainly serve this sooner but, letting it simmer lets the flavor soak into the beans, and lets it all become one big happy family!

Enjoy this chili and hey, double the recipe, because I think munching on this for a healthy lunch or dinner for a few days.....oh wait, might cause some lower G.I. disturbance, so perhaps don't take it to work! HA!


Monday, January 11, 2016

Chocolate Monster Cookies

Snack time, again!  Because the holidays didn't bring us enough sugar right?  Oh well, life goes on and so does dessert!

These cookies are a staple of my child/teen hood.  My oldest sister, who we will refer to as "number 1" (for birth order sake ONLY) is the queen of these cookies.  She always used to have these cookies at her house, AND red Kool-Aid.  She was the Kool-Aid queen actually.  I don't know what she put in that stuff, but I always drank the Kool-Aid! HA!

Anyway I took her recipe and used up some leftover Christmas baking goods.  I didn't get much done with my husbands health issues, but, I had some leftover things I wanted to use.  You can use peanut butter in place of the Nutella, that is the original way, but I had tons of Nutella that needed used so I turned them into chocolate cookies and man oh man are they good!

I hope you give them a go, and enjoy their chewy, (no flour) goodness!!

6 eggs
1 cup softened butter
3 cups brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
20 oz. Nutella
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp pancake syrup
4 tsp baking soda
9 cups quick oats
1 cup butterscotch chips
2 cups M & Ms
1 cup Heath toffee bits

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients in the order they are listed.  Feel free to change your add ins to whatever you have on hand that you want to use up, this is just what I chose and it was fantastic.  

Place cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet.  I used my 1/4 cup cookie scoop because I wanted real MONSTER cookies.  Feel free to use a smaller scoop.  I only could fit 4 on a pan.  Can you say, "takes forever"?  So do what you want, get a real MONSTER size cookie or make smaller cookies.  They are chewy and delicious.  Bake for 10 minutes and make sure to let cool COMPLETELY on the cookie sheet before removing! 

ENJOY my friends!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Easy Fruit Dip

 HAPPY NEW YEAR friends!  Oh what a year.  WHAT a year.  It was the worst of times and it was the best of times.  For my family it was a year of extreme lows, yet extreme healing, and love.  We pray that you all found something amazing you can take with you into the new year and grow upon. We wish you a year of precious moments, prosperity, good health, and happy relationships.

This New Year's Eve we spent with our kids.  We ordered pizza, we laughed, we told stories, we played with the grand babies, and just enjoyed family time.  We made lots of dips and snacks and just ate our way into the new year!!  It was a blast!  I am blessed to have a son and daughter in law who welcome us into their home every single chance they get, and we love them dearly.

Last night we made 3 Layer Chili Dip, and Fiesta Taco Dip last night as well as my fruit dip.  
I hope that you enjoyed your time, either with family, friends or alone, as I sometimes like to spend my New Year's Eve.  This dip will hit just the spot, especially with apples and strawberries, the only fruit I will lay my lips on!  Oh wait, AND pineapple, why didn't I pick up pineapple!!?!

I know many people have an aversion to cool whip if you do, feel free to just use 1/2 cup heavy cream, and whip it about half way before adding the rest of the ingredients!

12 oz cream cheese (at room temperature)
1, 8 oz. container of cool whip
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, using a hand mixer for about 3-4 minutes.  You want your dip to be light, fluffy and smooth!  Transfer into a serving dish, bring on the fruit, and dip, dip, dip!