Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My Adventures in Freezer Cooking

Oh, little blog…do not think that I forgot about you.  Life has just gotten in the way.

Freezer cooking.  Ever heard of it?  It’s all the rage on Pinterest right now.  Find a bunch of recipes, make a list of what you need, hit the grocery store, put all the ingredients into a freezer bag, and stuff your freezer.   There are site dedicated to this concept, which is great for someone like me – the person that doesn’t want to do the work.

There are actually businesses that will do the work for you.  They also fool you into doing the work by calling it a Girls Night Out.  You and a bunch of your peeps spend the night putting together these meals (the business does all the shopping, cleaning, and cutting) while enjoying a few glasses of wine.  These Girls Night Out do not come cheaply!

I am not ready to dedicate an entire day in my kitchen, especially since the weather is getting nicer.  I am ready to try one or two of these types of meals, which is what we did last night.  I made Slower Cooker Black Bean and Corn Salsa Chicken, which I found at Six Sisters Stuff.  If you haven't been to their site, do yourself a favor and check it out.  It's great.

Slower Cooker Black Bean and Corn Salsa Chicken

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans corn, drained
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1 cup salsa (mild, medium, hot – your choice)
¾ cup water
1 lb. boneless chicken breast

Place all the stuff in a freezer bag, and stick in your freezer.   Allow the contents to thaw in your refrigerator the day before you want to serve it.  Place in your crock pot, and cook on low for 7-8 hours.  Shred the chicken before serving.

Food doesn't have to look pretty.  It just needs to taste GOOD!

I made nachos – simply place a few scoops on top of some tortilla chips, and top with sour cream and shredded  cheese.  My husband made burritos using this chicken mixture.  I will tell you that he said it reminded him of vegetable soup.  Not sure what to make of that.  He did say it was good, so I do know what to make of that!  

I pulled a bag out of our freezer last night..I'll tell you all about it later this week!

Until next time.....

Monday, April 15, 2013

Having a Blast (Buffalo, That Is)!

Sometimes you just have to make a wrong turn!  Case in point…my attempt at making the Cheesecake Factory’s Buffalo Blasts.  Have you ever had them?  They are THE BOMB.  Seriously, they are awesome.  Their menu, which is the size of a small novel, describes them as such: Chicken, Cheese, and our Spicy Buffalo Sauce all Stuffed in a Spiced Wrapper and Fried until Crisp.  Served with Celery Sticks and Blue Cheese Dressing.

We ordered these the last time we were at the restaurant, and my sister-in-law said that these reminded her of the buffalo chicken dip I make.  We talked about it, and figured that the appetizer was basically deep fried dip.

I set out this past weekend to try to replicate the blasts, but ran into a small snag when I discovered the grocery store was out of wonton wrappers.  I picked up the egg roll wrappers, and decided that when life give you lemons, you make lemonade.  Instead of making the blasts, I decided to make Buffalo Chicken Egg rolls instead.  

Here’s what you need to make them yourself:

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast; cooked and shredded
**you could probably use canned chicken, but that stuff freaks me out so I avoid it
**I cook the chicken in a crock pot for 2 hours.  I found this makes the chicken super tender, and easy to shred
1 cup hot sauce
1 (8) oz. block cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Egg roll wrappers
**these can be found in the produce section of the grocery store
Panko crumbs (totally optional)
Cup of water
Oil for frying

In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese and hot sauce.  It will look like a clumpy mess, and that’s a good thing (just like Martha).

Add the shredded chicken and shredded cheese to the mess, and mix well. 

Lay an egg roll wrapper out on a flat surface.  Add a spoonful (eyeball it) of the chicken mixture to the middle of the wrapper.  Bring up the bottom end of the wrapper to cover the mixture.  Fold in the two sides of the wrapper, and then bring down the top of the wrapper.  Wet your finger with water, and gently blot the seals of the wrapper.  This will help to seal the roll.

Optional: You can coat the egg roll in panko seasoning to add a little extra crunch to things.

Heat the oil to 350 degrees.  Carefully add the egg rolls to the hot oil, and cook on each side for three minutes.

Remove from oil, and drain on a paper towel.

Serve hot, with blue cheese dressing and celery on the side.

I was able to make 20 normal size egg rolls with this recipe.  My husband and I ate them for dinner (so not healthy!).  You could easily cut these in half, or into threes, and serve them at a party.

I apologize for the funky pictures.  I took these using my iPhone, and no matter how hard I try, I can't rotate them.  So, just turn your head ever-so-slightly, and admire the beauty.

Until next time.....

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Lovey Dolls

A few weeks ago, the Monkey attended a Girl Scout event for World Thinking Day.  One of the troop leaders organized a station to make Lovey Dolls.  I was blown away by this station -- it was such a simple thing to do, and it is a wonderful way to give back to the community.

The purpose of a Lovey Doll is to provide a mother's scent to a baby that is in the NICU.  The baby can't be with his/her mom right way, so this allows them to have a piece of her.  Each package includes two dolls.  The mother wears one doll for two days, and then places it with the baby.  The mother then wears the second doll, and after two more days, the dolls are exchanged.  The original is cleaned, and the process starts all over again.

I liked this idea so much, and I thought it would be something that the entire troop would like to do.  It's fairly inexpensive, and I found cute fabric on clearance at the craft store ($3 and $4 for a yard).  You don't have to be part of a troop to do this.  This could be something you do with your family one evening.  

Here's what you need to do:


  • 1 yard of fabric – the softer, the better
  • Yarn or string
  • Fiber stuffing
  • Ziploc bag (quart size)
  • Lovey Doll instructions

Cute fabric -- and it doesn't have to be nursery themed
Step 1:  Cut the fabric into 15” x 15” squares.  I was able to get 10 squares from one yard of fabric.

Step 2:  Cut the string or yarn into 12" pieces.  I found that little hands work well with longer pieces of string.  You can adjust the length to your liking.

Step 3:  Take a handful of stuffing, and “ball” it in your fist.  This ball will act at the doll’s head, so you want to try to make it round.

Step 4: With the stuffing still in your fist, please one fabric square on top of your fist, and push the stuffing up to form the head.

Step 5: Take the string, and tie it as tightly as you can towards the bottom of the head.  You should end up with something that looks like a ghost.

Sorry for the side ways picture, but I think you can get the point.

Step 6: Place two of the dolls into a Ziploc bag.  Include a set of the instructions in with the dolls, and close the bag.  These are now ready to donate to your local hospital.

I found that the girls in my troop just love to help people, and they liked doing this activity because they knew they were helping babies.  The Monkey enjoyed putting these together, and the lesson really hit home when I explained to her that this would have helped someone that she knew.  This is my nephew Evan (he's really my cousin, but my family tree has a lot of crazy roots).  He was born two months early, and spent a month in the hospital before he could go home with his parents.  Once she could associate a face to the project, she was all over it.

Evan -- June 2012

This is a picture of Evan -- he will celebrate his first birthday this June.  Handsome, isn't he?  He's such a big (and healthy) boy!

Evan - April 2013

Until next time.....

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mock Hawaiian BBQ Chicken

While surfing the web one night, I came across this recipe from Six Sisters Stuff.  I’m all about finding recipes that can be put together in a blink of an eye, and this one definitely fits the bill.

This is what their recipe called for
  • 1 20oz. can pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1 bottle Archer Farms Hawaiian Style BBQ Sauce (from Target)
  • 4-6 boneless chicken breast

This is what I used
2 20 oz. cans pineapple chunks, drained (I love pineapple)
1 bottle Hunt’s Honey Hickory BBQ sauce (I grocery shop at the Shop-Rite, and they don’t sell Archer Farms products.  I went with what I *thought* would be a sweet sauce)
Pkg of frozen Perdue chicken breast

If you have one, use a crock pot liner before placing your ingredients in the crock.  It makes clean up a breeze.  Dump everything in the pot, put the lid on top, set the temperature up to high, and go about your business.  If you cook this on high, which I did, allow 2-3 hours to cook.  If you cook it on low, allow 4-6 hours to cook.  

When the time is right, you can shred the chicken while it is still in the pot, or you can remove it like I did.  I found it easier to remove the chicken, shred it on a plate, and then return it to the pot.  

Serve over rice (which is how I ate it), or serve it on its own (which is how my husband ate it). 

I found the sauce to be a little runny, and I think it was because I added the extra can of pineapple.  To fix this, I sprinkled in some cornstarch.  This thickened the sauce up so it was almost like a gravy, which I prefer.  The meal also had a “bite” to it, which I attribute to the BBQ sauce I used.  If I used the sweeter sauce, which is what the original recipe called for, I’m sure the “bite” would be missing.

If you get the chance, check out Six Sisters Stuff.  It’s got a ton of recipes and craft ideas, and the sisters are too sweet.

Until next time…. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

March Foodie Pen Pal Reveal

It’s Foodie Pen Pal reveal today – well, it was really yesterday, but I took a little break from the computer.  This month I got a care package from Kate, who blogs at What a life…..By Kate.   Not only did she send me an assortment of tasty goodies, but she included a handwritten note to explain what everything was and why she included it.  Thanks Kate for sending me this great package, and for forcing me to try new things!

Here’s the cool stuff she sent

Baklava – She bought this at a local market in her city.  It was very tasty!
Spicy Carrot Chips – I stepped out of my comfort zone, and tried this snack, and I have one word for you.  Yuck.
Rhubarb-Strawberry Preserve – Super sweet, and good on crackers.
Chocolate/Toffee Covered Almonds – One word can describe these.  YUM!
Energy Chunks –Exactly like they sound.
Almond & Hazelnut Butters – Again, I stepped outside of my comfort zone, and I’m glad I did.  These were awesome.
Peeps – You can never go wrong with Peeps! 

So tasty!

You can see what I sent to my pen pal Jordyn over at A Jew Broad Cooks (could that name be any cooler? It's a great Goodfellas reference!)

Here’s the down and dirty on the Foodie Pen Pal Program:

  • On the 5th of every month, you will receive your pen pal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your pen pal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your pen pal!
  • The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
  • You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
  • Foodie Pen Pals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your pen pal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
  • Foodie Pen Pals is open to US, Canadian & European residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. Same with Europeans. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.

Until next time.....