Friday, December 28, 2012

Louisiana Cookbook Giveaway

Just in time for Mardi Gras season, here's your chance to win a "Talk About Good" Louisiana cookbook, a bottle of Louisiana hotsauce, and some Cajun Seasoning! Entering is easy! Just complete the Rafflecopter entry form below. Good luck!




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Friday, December 21, 2012

Easy Caramel Popcorn Tutorial

Each Christmas, our family buys gifts for the kids only. It's cheaper on us and really, Christmas presents are all about the kids anyway. But I always feel like the adults should get SOMETHING out of the deal. So, I always make Christmas treats for everyone.  This recipe is for the BEST Caramel Popcorn. It's easy and blows the lid off those "Gourmet Caramel Corn" tins you see this time of year. Fill Christmas cellophane bags with this popcorn, tie with a ribbon, and give away! Or keep...and eat it all yourself.

Caramel Popcorn Tutorial

Ingredients


5 quarts of freshly popped popcorn (this is about 3-4 bags of plain popcorn)
1/2 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract

 Step 1

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Pop your popcorn and pour into two 9x13 baking dishes. Keep popcorn warm in the oven while you make the caramel sauce.

Step 2


In a small sauce pan, melt the butter. Once melted, stir in the brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil and boil without stirring for 4 minutes. Then remove from heat. Add the vanilla extract and baking soda, stir well.

Step 3


Pour half of the sauce over each pan of popcorn. Stir to coat and put back in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes- 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Step 4


Let cool and keep in an air tight container. Oh, then eat it. =)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pesto Chicken Alfredo (FREEZER MEAL)


I LOVE pasta. I love it even more when it's really easy to put together and throw in the freezer for dinner another day.


This makes a great freezer meal. Just line your casserole with tinfoil and then saran wrap. Assemble the Pesto Chicken Alfredo like normal but instead of baking it, freeze it! To reheat, put the unwrapped frozen Pesto Chicken Alfredo back into the pan you froze it in, and let thaw in the fridge. Once thawed, bake as normal.

Pesto Chicken Alfredo

Ingredients 

1 package (16oz) penne pasta- cooked and drained
4 cups cooked chicken, cubed
4 cups (16 ounces) shredded Italian cheese blend
3 cups fresh baby spinach 
1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes 
1 jar (15 ounces) Alfredo sauce 
1 1/2 cups milk
1 container (5-8 ounces) prepared basil pesto 
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs 
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil

Step 1



In a bowl, combine the cooked pasta, cooked chicken, cheese blend, baby spinach, crushed tomatoes, Alfredo sauce, milk, and pesto.

Step 2

In a separate bowl, combine the olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs.

Step 3

Pour pasta mixture into two 8X8 pans. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta.

Step 4

Cover pasta with tinfoil and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Movie-Scene Art Giveaway!!

This giveaway is a little different from my usual giveaways but I couldn't help it. Jim is a friend of mine and he's an amazing artist. He specializes in famous movie scenes and I thought his art would make great Christmas gifts for your favorite movie buff!! The winner of this giveaway will get to choose one large print OR 3 small prints with free shipping!
Be sure to browse his art in his Etsy shop to see what he has to offer!
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Monday, November 19, 2012

Cream Cheese and Jalapeno-stuffed Filet Mignon Roast Tutorial

The title says it all. Our wedding anniversary was this month and I decided to cook a special dinner for hubby. We usually go to a 5-star restaurant but he always complains that my food is better so I thought a homecooked 5-star dinner was right up his alley. I had recently bought and broke down a whole beef tenderloin so I had a small roast in the freezer. Here's what I did with it!

Cream Cheese and Jalapeno-stuffed Filet Mignon Roast

Ingredients 
 
1 beef tenderloin roast (1-2lbs) (room temperature)
1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
2 oz of cold cream cheese 
Steak Seasoning
2 Tbs cold butter 

Step 1 


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Trim the roast of the fat and skin. Carefully cut through the center of the roast, longways, not going all the way through, to form a pocket

Step 2 


Season the inside and out of the roast with steak seasoning and a little salt. Stuff with the cream cheese, garlic, and jalapeno slices. Fold over and secure with toothpicks if desired. I just situated my roast on the pan with the seam on top to contain the filling while it cooks. Drizzle with olive oil.

Step 3


Bake in 500 degree oven for 18-22 minutes for medium rare. Remove from oven, put 2 Tbs of cold butter on the roast, and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.









Monday, November 12, 2012

Benefits and Uses for Whey

For those of you who are interested in or already making homemade yogurt, you might be wondering what to do with all the whey you get from making Greek Yogurt or Cream Cheese. Well, the answer is: A LOT!

Whey is (according to Wikipedia): Whey or Milk Serum is the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained. It is a by-product of the manufacture of cheese or casein and has several commercial uses. Sweet whey is manufactured during the making of rennet types of hard cheese like cheddar or Swiss cheese. Acid whey (also known as "sour whey") is obtained during the making of acid types of cheese such as cottage cheese.

It's basically a pure protein liquid. Think of those powdered Whey supplements. It also has lots of Calcium in it. Here are a few ways to use and benefit from this by-product of making your own yogurt! And since it can keep for months in the fridge and even longer in the freezer, using it up should be easy.



1) Use it in place of water or milk (even buttermilk) when baking. My Honey Wheat Bread is "whey" better with whey. Get it?! I use it in pancakes, biscuits, waffles...pretty much any baked good that calls for milk or water.

2) Add to milkshakes or smoothies for extra nutrition and to help you stay fuller, longer!

3) Use whey to cook things like rice, pasta, even quinoa (this is handy when you have lots of whey in the fridge).

4) Substitute for chicken broth in soaps and stews.

5) Use it as a marinade for chicken, fish, beef, or pork.

6) Make Ricotta cheese with it! (Tutorial coming soon).

6) Dilute it and feed your garden with it. Tomatoes are particularly fond of this stuff, the calcium makes HUGE tomatoes!

7) Use it as a hair conditioner. After shampooing, pour some over your hair and massage it in. Let sit for 10 minutes and rinse. (I do this and my hair always feels AMAZING and styles so easily!) It also helps hair grow and makes it stronger.

8) For extra hair conditioning for your hair, apply whey to your towel-dried hair and comb through. Let hair dry naturally. Then rinse and style as normal.

8) Dilute it in a spray bottle with water and use as hair gel or hair spray.

9)  Pour a cup or two in your bath water to ease many skin irritations like Eczema and dry skin. It also helps maintain a balanced pH level to keep yeast infections at bay!

10) Drink it straight for healthy hair and nails.

11) Apply whey directly to your face with a cotton ball, it will clean, moisturize, and tone in one step! It's even been shown that whey fades age spots, firms up the skin, and clears up acne!

12) Dampen a cotton ball with cold whey and place over closed eyes to help those puffy eyes!

13) Studies have shown that whey has stimulated insulin-release in Type 2 Diabetics and lowering blood sugar levels!

14) Yogurt whey contains calcium, the mineral linked to bone health. It's also It also a good source of potassium and vitamin B-2. Whey also contains several amino acids and other compounds identified with boosting immunity, including casein and immunoglobulins. Whey appears to increase the level of glutathione, or GSH, found in body tissues. GSH protects your body from a host of environmental threats, from UV rays to pollution. Low levels can expose you to threats of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, along with cataracts and heart disease. As people age, their GSH levels decrease. Smoking, stress and the occurrence of diseases such as cancer can also lower your GSH levels. Adding yogurt whey and other whey proteins to your diet may help to raise your GSH levels.


So, lets recap:

Make a gallon of yogurt in 3 easy steps at a cost of a gallon of milk, strain it in a kitchen towel and get whey, which can be used for health, beauty, and cooking. It's a win-win-win-win-win!




Thursday, November 8, 2012

Homemade S'Mores Coffee Creamer Tutorial

I'm a big fan of coffee creamers and I knew when I saw the seasonal S'Mores flavor, I had to try and make it. Check out my tutorials on how to make Caramel Macchiato creamer and Pumpkin Pie Spice creamer, too!

S'Mores Coffee Creamer

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Hershey Chocolate syrup
1 (7oz) container of Marshmallow Fluff
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Step 1

In a saucepan, heat the cream and milk. Add the sugar, syrup, marshmallow fluff, and cinnamon. Whisk until smooth. Pour into a container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Being Humble When it Hurts the Most



Your spouse may not always deserve your submission or respect.  They will make you mad!  It’s in those times, when you submit to your spouse humbly that it will affect them the most.  Chances are you will be burning with rage on the inside. Hopefully, if you have a Godly spouse they will see you are in turmoil, beat themselves up, and come back later and apologize.  This works both ways, that’s why I said spouse instead of husband!  I’ve come home mad at the world before and in a terrible mood.  I was griping at my wife unnecessarily.  She would have been totally justified in raising her voice and yelling back at me, but she didn’t.  She was humble and meek.  When she responded to me so honorably, it stopped me in my tracks and completely defused the situation.  It made me see how wrong I was.  She won the war by not fighting. 

Matthew 5:43-48
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. 

1 Peter 3:8-9
Finally, all [of you] should be of one and the same mind (united in spirit), sympathizing [with one another], loving [each other] as brethren [of one household], compassionate and courteous (tenderhearted and humble).9 Never return evil for evil or insult for insult (scolding, tongue-lashing, berating), but on the contrary blessing [praying for their welfare, happiness, and protection, and truly pitying and loving them]. For know that to this you have been called, that you may yourselves inherit a blessing [from God—that you may obtain a blessing as heirs, bringing welfare and happiness and protection].

Women, look at 1st Peter 3:1 [Husbands] may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives. The Holy Spirit can beat your husband up much worse than you can by nagging or yelling at him!  Can I get an Amen?  This is so true.  An example of this that I’m sure many of you can relate to is with your children.  One day one of our kids was acting up and had done something bad.  They had been acting up all day and pushing my limits.  I’m not as patient as my wife; although that’s something I’m working on and praying about.  So I did the typical thing… WHY DID YOU DO THAT?!  And my kid started crying and said “It was an accident daddy, I’m sorry.”  I could tell by her cry and the tone of her voice that it truly was an accident.  She felt bad about it, and raising my voice really hurt her feelings.  Man, talk about twisting the knife in my heart!  Her words of humility stopped me like a brick wall, and made me want to slam my head into one at the same time. I felt like such a jerk!  I picked her up and apologized.  It was one of those moments that I’ll never forget and made me want to be more patient in the future.  My daughter’s true humility and behavior broke my heart.

Men, I know you are macho and tough, but look what the bible says in the verse above.  Finally, all [of you] should be of one and the same mind (united in spirit), sympathizing [with one another], loving [each other] as brethren [of one household], compassionate and courteous (tenderhearted and humble).  Most of these behaviors are what we would associate with women.  Men don’t want to sympathize, love, be compassionate, or courteous, because that’s not what men do, right?  Wrong!  Where would we be if Jesus didn’t have those attributes?  Burning in hell, that’s where!

Romans 12:9-21 - Love in Action
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[
e
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Being humble in the midst of suffering hurts badly and is opposite of the “me first” mentality that is so prevalent today.  It hurts so much worse when you know that you are undeserving of the pain you are feeling.  Try thinking of it as having an opportunity to love as Jesus loved and to suffer unjustly as he did.  Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Don’t fall victim to the prosperity gospel thinking.  Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel or the health and wealth gospel)[A] is a Christian religious doctrine which claims the Bible teaches that financial blessing is the will of God for Christians. The doctrine teaches that faith, positive speech, and donations to Christian ministries will always increase one's material wealth.  –Wikipedia

I don’t see how this can be true.  Look at the life of Jesus and his disciples.  Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life and he was crucified on the cross.  His disciples were mostly all martyred, crucified, stoned, etc.  Just because you are a Christian doesn’t mean you won’t have problems!  Here is a great example.  "Thorn in the Flesh" is a colloquialism used to describe a chronic infirmity, annoyance, or trouble in one's life. It is most commonly used by Christians. The source of this expression is Paul of Tarsus, who uses it in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10: 

Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. (NRSV) Thanks again Wikipedia!
To keep Paul from being exalted or proud, he was given a ‘thorn in the flesh’.  We don’t know exactly what the thorn was, and it doesn’t really matter.  We just know that it was something bad that he had to struggle against.  Paul asked God three times to remove it, and God would not.  So Paul was “good” enough to write most of the New Testament and yet God would not remove the thorn.  In the same way that God allowed Job to be tormented, he allowed Paul to be tormented in order to keep him humble and accomplish God’s will. God said "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness."  Power is made perfect in weakness, that’s good stuff!

I’ll leave you with this powerful song.  Praise God!
Through The Fire - Crabb Family
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdK-HUK6OhE

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mary Kay Giveaway!!


This weeks giveaway is from my friend, Kayla at Mary Kay! She is donating 100 dollars of free products and YOU get to choose which products to get for free!

The winner of this giveaway will be able to shop on Kayla's site and choose any of the products, up to 100 dollars, and Kayla will give it to you for free!


Entering is easy! Just use the Rafflecopter entry form below and then check out her site HERE to see the fantastic products they have this season. This would be a great way to get some Christmas presents taken care of too.

On top of that, each person who orders from her and mentions my site will get 15% of their order and shipping is always free!

GOOD LUCK!


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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chicken Club Casserole Tutorial (FREEZER MEAL)

This is a delicious, creamy, and comforting casserole. My whole family loves it! This recipe makes a 9x13 baking dish full- serving 10...or two 8X8 baking dishes!

This makes a great freezer meal. Just line your pan with tinfoil and then saran wrap. Assemble the casserole like normal but instead of baking it, freeze it! To reheat, put the unwrapped frozen casserole back into the pan you froze it in, and let thaw in the fridge overnight. Once thawed, bake as normal.

Chicken Club Casserole

Ingredients

1 lb spiral pasta, cooked
4 cups cubed cooked chicken
2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) condensed cheddar cheese soup, undiluted
1 cup crumbled cooked bacon
1 cup milk
1 cup mayonnaise
4 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese

Step 1


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients EXCEPT the shredded cheese.

Step 2


Pour contents of bowl into the baking dish. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Step 3


Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted.










Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chicken Quesadillas Tutorial (FREEZER MEAL)

This is perfect for those grocery store rotisserie chickens. It's fast and delicious. 

This makes a great freezer meal: Prepare and bake as normal. Let cool and place the quesadillas on a baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen, wrap each one with saran wrap and place in a labeled Ziploc bag. To reheat: Unwrap frozen quesadilla and microwave for 2-3 minutes until heated through.

Chicken Quesadillas 

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken
2/3 cup salsa
1/3 cup finely diced red onion
1 Tbs finely chopped garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
Flour tortillas (between 8-10)
1/4 cup melted butter
8oz shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Sour cream for serving

Step 1

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a skillet, saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until softened. 

Step 2

Add the chicken to the garlic and onion. Stir to heat through.

Step 3

Add the salsa, cumin, oregano, and salt. Cook for 5-7 minutes. Set aside.

Step 4


Butter one side of the tortilla and flip over. Fill with 2 Tbs of chicken filling and sprinkle cheese over top. Fold the tortilla over and press down. Assemble the quesadillas on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes until tortilla is lightly browned.

Step 5

Serve with sour cream, jalapenos, guacamole...whatever you want!













Chocolate Lava Cakes Tutorial

If you are looking for an easy and quick chocolate dessert, this is the one. It's perfect for making when company comes over, it looks fancy and you can make several at one time.

Chocolate Lava Cakes

Ingredients

4 tsp sugar (for preparing the ramekins) 
1/2 cup butter, cubed
4oz (about 1/2 cup) of semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup powdered sugar
2 whole eggs PLUS 2 egg yolks (4 yolks and 2 whites total)
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 Tbs all-purpose flour

Step 1

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease (4) 6oz ramekins with Crisco. Then sprinkle 1 tsp of sugar into each ramekin. Swirl the cups around so that the sugar coats the bottom and sides. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and set aside.

Step 2

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and chocolate chips together for 30-40 seconds. Whisk until smooth- try to whisk and let the remaining chocolate melt without heating it in the microwave more than once. To the chocolate, add the powdered sugar, eggs, egg yolks, vanilla extract, and flour. Whisk until smooth.

Step 3

Divide the batter evenly amongst the 4 ramekins. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes. You want the very edges to be set but the center to be runny (see the second picture). Start checking that the 12 minute mark and time accordingly.

Step 4


Once the cakes are done,  transfer the ramekins to a cooling rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Then carefully run a knife around the very edge to loosen the cake- take care not to puncture the cake. Invert ramekin gently onto a plate. Dust cake with powdered sugar or whipped cream.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Shoepeg Corn Salad Tutorial

This is a great side dish to bring to a potluck or BBQ. It's a traditional side item at our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. It's the first thing people go for and one of the prettiest sides on the buffet. It's the most flavorful after it's been refrigerated overnight so make it the day before and you're ready to go!

Shoepeg Corn Salad

Ingredients

3 cans White Shoepeg corn
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped tomato
1/2 cup ranch dressing
Salt and Pepper to taste

Step 1





Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate, overnight if possible. Serve cold.








Homemade Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer

This is my second attempt at a homemade coffee creamer flavor and I have to say it is awesome. It's very easy. It's the same steps as my Caramel Macchiato creamer recipe only with different ingredients.

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer

1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice (you can find this in the spice aisle)

Step 1

In a sauce pan, heat the milk and cream until steaming.

Step 2


Add the sugar and spice and whisk until dissolved.

Step 3

Let cool, and pour into a container and store in the fridge. Shake well before each use.