Monday, April 27, 2009

Take the plunge & have a slice of breakfast pizza ~ 4.27.09


I've been inspired.

I've been thinking about taking the plunge lately and well, I'm just going to dive in.

I'm sick of it being 4:30 and me wondering, what exactly can I throw together for these 4 kids and myself? (I usually know what's for dinner on the nights when Mr. Crafty is going to be home) I'm tired of running to the grocery store with 2-4 kids (depending on the day and time) b/c I don't have cilantro or milk or food.


Leila is inspiring me to get those meals thought out, planned and money will be saved!

Let's here it for knowing what's for dinner before dinner! WOO HOO!

Let's here it for saving money! WOO HOO!!!

Let's here it for taking the time to finally plan it all out! WOO HOO!!!!!!!!!!

If there's anything that having a blog (or two) has taught me, it is this- if I put it "out there" in the world that I'm going to do something, I will do it. I have accountability. I have friends and Mr. Crafty P asking me, "have you done _____ yet?" It's a remarkable system and it's working. And I'm trusting in this practice that it will work with this as well.

So, it began when I found Leila's posts on her sidebar. You can start HERE and then check out her sidebar for worksheets and more posts to inspire YOU!

Who wants to join me? I love a party and this seems like a good party to get into on a weekly basis, no?

Wondering what the picture up above is? Those are the infamous Bananaroni Pizzas. I saw a picture of them in a parenting magazine, I believe it was a freezer waffle ad and thought - awesome idea!

Make your frozen waffles. Spread with butter, then your favorite jam/jelly. Top with sliced bananas, maybe sprinkle on some wheat germ (ooo! good idea! just thought of that!) and cut with a pizza slicer.

A fun way to mix up eating waffles the same way all the time!

p.s. I've begun this process in varying stages for awhile now, but I'm ready to embrace it fully! Let's GO!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sweet Potato Burritos! Ole~ 4.24.09

Now with PICTURES!
I've had this recipe dog-eared to try for a LONG time, but I could never justify making it b/c I figured I would be the only one eating it. It does sound like a strange combination, but trust me, it is so darn good! I've made them twice now since the first attempt and may try sticking to the recipe a bit more. I would say I'm often "inspired" more by recipes lately, than I am at making them verbatim. Nothing wrong with that, it helps me be more creative in the kitchen!

I made these along with another recipe from the same cookbook for Zachary & Dominic's second birthday a few weeks back. A good crowd pleaser and 5 thumbs up from me! It does help if you like sweet potatoes b/c they are the star ingredient!

Addictive Sweet Potato Burritos
inspired by Allrecipes dinner tonight cookbook, pg. 163

1 can refried black beans
2 large sweet potatoes (or more depending on who you're feeding)
8 oz shredded monterey jack cheese
10-12 burrito size tortillas- the whole wheat ones were great for this!

1. Roast your sweet pototoes until they start to ooze, split open and are easily pierced with a knife. Peel and mash up those potatoes until nice and smooth. Get a baking sheet ready with foil and a little cooking spray on it. (NOTE: since this step takes a good hour +, I often do it ahead of time, say, the night before when I'm making dinner. I just throw the taters in while I'm cooking something else!)

2. Get your ingredients ready assembly line style: refried beans and spreader, mashed sweets, shredded cheese, tortillas.

3. Heat up a couple tortillas in the microwave to help make them soft and malleable- spread on a little refried beans- keep them away from the edges. I usually spread enough to make an oval shape in the middle of my tortilla- remember you're rolling them up and you don't want them to ooze out on the baking sheet. Then spoon a couple tablespoons of sweet potatoes. Lastly, sprinkle on some monterey jack cheese.


4. Roll 'em up and line 'em up on your baking sheet. Keep going until you have enough or you're out of ingredients.

5. Bake at 375 until hot- about 12-15 minutes. I rub a little olive oil on top of the tortillas to crisp them up and b/c it tastes good!

Serve with chips and salsa or my favorite Black Bean Salsa!

But today, I had mine with Our Best Bites Lime Cilantro Rice with Pineapple... c'mon, you know this is good stuff!




I think I'll start adding who in the house likes the recipe I write up, so that I can have a good reference when I'm searching for something to make.

Vinny hasn't tried these yet... somehow, they're always gone before he gets to them.
Gabriel gobbled them up with me.
The other three are a mixed bag- depends on the day, the hour, the moon's phase and the weather.

I'll also try and get some pics up a bit later so you can see the finished product...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How to make a s'meep ~ 4.22.09

To celebrate this great and wonderful 2nd Wednesday of Easter, I thought I'd introduce you to our new favorite seasonal treat, the s'meep.

hello soon-to-be-s'meep!
simply a graham cracker, some chocolate bar on top of that and the peep or bunny of your choice on top of that!

into the oven you go... hot and melty s'meeps!


and ready to be eaten while we cheer on the PENS!

delicious little s'meeps!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thai Peanut Noodles with a TIP~ 4.16.09

It looks like the Thai Peanut Noodles have won that little contest over there. So, here goes.


I found these via Our Best Bites (which you'll see a link to on my sidebar). Great recipes over there by 2 lovely ladies. I have my eye on several and you will certainly find one, two or a dozen that you'd like to try, so check them out!


A few weeks back we celebrated my cousin Karen's 50th birthday while her daughter, Brooke, and grandson, Shane, were in town. Brooke's a faithful reader over here and at She's a Crafty Pumpkin and my second cousin!


there's mom getting the cake ready and see in the bottom corner, those are the noodles!



Anywho, we decided to throw Karen a Asian Fusion party. Fusion b/c we had an eclectic mix of foods and it just sounds so sassy to say "Asian Fusion", don't you think?

We made a delicious Asian Chicken Salad, Thai Peanut Noodles, heated up some pre-made egg rolls and had a couple dips thrown in for good measure. The highlights were the chocolate fountain and the Italian Creme Cake. Mmmmm.... delicious.

However, I thought these thai peanut noodles were especially lip delish. I made them up earlier in the day and absolutely
could
n o t
S T O P
eating them! I've made them twice now and lowered the heat a good bit for the kids. They didn't get into them as much as their mum, but whatever, I love these noodles and will make them from time to time as they are simple, simple!


Here's what you need:

1/2 cup chicken broth
3 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
**1-2 tsp Sriracha chili sauce (1 is mild w/ a bite, 1 1/2 is medium and 2 is HOT)
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz of linguine or Udon noodles (I used linguine)
chopped green onions
chopped cilantro
2 limes, cut into quarters
chopped peanuts

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and then salt it. Add your noodles. Remember the recipe calls for 8 oz, so if you make a whole package, be sure to double your sauce!!

In a medium saucepan, combine the PB, chili sauce, chicken broth, honey, soy sauce, ginger and garlic over medium-low heat. Whisk together until smooth and warmed through. Taste as to adjust the heat level to your liking.

Once the noodles are done cooking, drain and put them back in the pot. Add the Peanut sauce and combine.

Serve it up in bowls and let everyone add their own toppings: green onions, cilantro, lime and peanuts! I like it all and the lime juice really makes these noodles sing!

**NOTE about the Sriracha chili sauce- it's HOT and I am a complete wus when it comes to spicy foods, but this is an essential ingredient and I love the background heat that it added to the noodles. I found it to be cheapest at Wal-mart and almost a dollar more at my grocery store!

Now here's a great tip for chopping up herbs, like the cilantro in this recipe. I love this trick b/c the herbs don't fly off your cutting board and it's seriously QUICK!

Get a small cup and toss in some herbs. Here I have flat leaf parsley that I've cut off from a big bunch of parsley.



Grab your kitchen shears. If you do not own these, please go put on a pair of shoes and grab your keys and get yourself a nice pair. I could not survive in the kitchen without them. They are indispensable!

For those of you who have them, let's continue, the others will catch up later...Put your shears in the cup and start cutting up those herbs!


Voila! Perfectly cut up herbs and no mess but a cup.

Coming up next post...
Addictive Sweet Potato Burritos- oh my!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Feast ~ 4.11.09


Tomorrow we'll be celebrating the great feast of Easter!

While I'll be quite the busy little bunny hopping around the kitchen today, I thought I'd post some of the foods that will grace the Costain table.

Neely's Peach Glazed Ham - quite excited about this one!
Scalloped Potatoes - mom is making these
Roasted Asparagus - pan roasted
Baked Fruit!
Cucumber Salad
Mandarin Orange Salad
Sauteed Spinach with corn and tomatoes
bread

Dessert
Oats'n Honey Pie
Fresh Strawberries with Chocolate dip

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Let us eat Cake! ~ 4.7.09

March brought a lot of new recipes through the Crafty Cafe and I'd like to share a few of those with you... eventually. Today, since it's the day after my birthday AND my premiere post over here in the Cafe, I'll talk about dessert first. Is there really any better way to begin?

Three cakes have waltzed in and out of the Crafty kitchen in the past 3 weeks and they are all worth mentioning, eating and making again and again and again.

I'll work my way backwards through my cake baking, let's call this a cake walk, shall we?

For the twin's birthday party last week, I found this monkey cake via Parenting's website. When I get the creative spark to make something I just google whatever it is and find something I like. I googled "how to make a monkey cake" and found this:


"PERFECT!," I declared, 4 days before the birthday party.

That's just how I roll.

The cake part was a recipe from My Kitchen Cafe. She has never led me astray and this cake was so perfectly moist and delicious, hence the name of the cake,

Super Moist Fudge Bundt Cake.
from Erin W. and Melanie C. & My Kitchen Cafe blog


1 devils food cake mix
1 4-serving instant chocolate pudding mix
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream (not low-fat or fat-free)
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips


Place all ingredients except chocolate chips in a large mixing bowl.

Blend with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Stir down sides.

Continue to mix on medium speed for 2-3 minutes.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared (i.e. greased and floured) bundt pan.

Bake 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool 20 minutes.

Invert onto serving platter.

**if you're making this in 2 9-inch cake pans, you'll only bake it for somewhere between 22-28 minutes.keep checking with a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean and be careful not to stick it into a gooey chocolate chip!

In a word, mmmmmmm.

But to better describe it I'll add that it is super easy to make. I used a Dark Fudge/Chocolate cake mix, as that is what I had on hand. The key to the chocolately-ness of this cake is the chocolate chips. They added that something special to it and put it over the top. I baked mine in 2 9-inch baking pans so that I could make my cake a double layer cake. The batter was nice and thick, too. Perfect for licking off of the beater!

To frost, I made a simple chocolate buttercream frosting: butter, cocoa, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla (?). simple stuff. much better than buying the can. again, trust me.

Cake number 2 hails from an issue of Country Living magazine.


Go here for the recipe for Praline Turtle Cake

Sweet, sweet, sweet is the best way to describe this cake. I liked the picture from the website better than mine it wasn't as appetizing. I would certainly make this again, but it wasn't as well received by the little people as the Monkey Cake up above.

The best part of this cake is that you only need a bowl and a spoon to stir it all together. No mixer at all!

You do need to heat the butter, brown sugar and sweetened condensed milk on the stove for a bit, but it's not hard at all.

Using the parchment paper on the bottom of the pan made clean-up easy and enabled the cake to pop right out of the pan.

As is often the case for me, I just made my own quick fudge sauce instead of buying a bottle at the grocery store. I had all the ingredients in my pantry/fridge and there were no extra added perservatives thrown in to boot!

Chocolate Sauce

4 oz German chocolate
3 Tbs water
1/4 cup sugar
dash salt

Combine above ingredients in a saucepan and melt over low until nice and smooth.
Remove from heat and add:
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs butter

Makes 3/4 cup of chocolate sauce. Perfect amt for the Praline Turtle Cake recipe above!

Last, but definitely NOT least was the Italian Cream Cake I made for my cousin Karen's Surprise Party last month.

I've had this cake dog-eared for years but never brought myself to bake it because of this one ingredient: coconut oil. I absolutely LOVE coconut. Mounds, Almond Joy, macaroons, mallo-cups, coconut shrimp... you name it, I love the flavor, texture and scent. However, there are many people in my life that do not have the same affinity towards it (my dad, my husband and my aunt, Marsha). SO, it has taken me this long to find someone who truly appreciates the coconut for it's worth and yummy flavor. I was thrilled to make this cake for the occasion.

This is a Cooking Light magazine recipe and although mine was a bit crumby, the flavor does not disappoint! Another double layer cake-- my 9 inch pans certainly got a workout these past 3 weeks- and this one takes a bit more work b/c you have to beat the egg whites- nothing my kitchen aid can't handle, though.

Italian Cream Cake
Source: Cooking Light

Ingredients
CAKE:

Cooking spray
2 teaspoons cake flour
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 cups cake flour (about 8 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 large egg whites

FROSTING:1 tablespoon butter; 1/2 cup (5 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese; 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar; 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350°.
To prepare cake, coat bottoms of 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray (do not coat sides of pans).
Line bottoms of pans with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray, and dust with 2 teaspoons flour; set aside.
Place 1/3 cup butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating well.
Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Lightly spoon 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.
Combine 2 cups flour, baking soda, and salt; stir well.
Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Stir in pecans, coconut extract, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Beat egg whites with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form (do not overbeat).
Fold egg whites into batter; pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake at 350° for 23 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 5 minutes on a wire rack. Loosen cake layers from sides of pans; remove from pans. Remove and discard wax paper. Cool completely.

To prepare frosting, place 1 tablespoon butter and cream cheese in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until smooth (do not overbeat). Add 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat well.

Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with one-third of frosting. Top with other cake layer.
Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.

**I toasted some coconut and sprinkled that on top of the cake to gild the lily just a bit.
Serves: 16
Nutritional Info: CALORIES 322 (25% from fat); FAT 8.8g (sat 4.6g,mono 2.8g,poly 0.8g); IRON 1.4mg; CHOLESTEROL 45mg; CALCIUM 33mg; CARBOHYDRATE 56.6g; SODIUM 221mg; PROTEIN 4.7g; FIBER 0.5gWW Points: 7