Winner Winner Sweet and Sour Chicken Dinner

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

We have a winner for Yoplait Greek's "Nourish Your Inner Goddess" gift pack! Check out the drawing below to see who won!
I saw this Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe on Three On Food's website, it's a great website shared by three women who post their favorite recipes! I was really excited to try this recipe because Andrew LOVES sweet and sour chicken from our local Chinese restaurant. We really liked this dinner, I don't think it tasted exactly like the restaurant version but it was very good! The only negatives are that it's a little time consuming (frying the chicken and then baking it for an hour) and that it's fried. We're all trying to lose weight and we're not going to get there by frying up dinner... literally.
EVERYONE NEEDS TO WATCH JAMIE OLIVER'S FOOD REVOLUTION!! It's on Friday nights, ABC, at 8:00pm (central time)! If you missed the first two episodes they are available online for free! It will make you think twice about the food you feed your family!

Chicken Ingredients
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

Sauce Ingredients
3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Cut boneless chicken breasts into chunks. Season with salt and pepper. Dip chicken in cornstarch and then in egg. Fry in a little oil until brown but not cooked through. Place in a single layer in a baking dish. Mix sauce ingredients together and pour over chicken.
Bake for one hour at 325 degrees. Turn chicken every 15 minutes. If you like extra sauce, make another batch of sauce and bring it to a boil on the stovetop. Stir constantly and let cook over medium heat until thickened and reduced - about 6-8 minutes.

Now for the winner of the Yoplait Greek's "Nourish Your Inner Goddess" gift pack! Thanks to everyone for entering! You gave Abbott good scissor practice! And folding practice And orneryness practice.... oh no! And shaking practice Is that enough shaking mom? It's cute how he closed his eyes! And the winner is... ANTHY!!! Congratulations!

Chicken Gyros and a Giveaway

Sunday, March 28, 2010

We've never had Gyros before today. Sure I've seen Mr. Gyro's restaurant and the mall food court sells gyros but we've never stopped to try them. I am SO glad we finally tried them! They were refreshing and delicious, and it gave me an opportunity to use the new Yoplait Greek yogurt! Yoplait and MyBlogSpark chose me (well, chose you really) to participate in their "Nourish Your Inner Goddess" giveaway!! All readers can print out this coupon to save $0.30 on one cup of Yoplait Greek yogurt but one special reader gets a Yoplait Greek "Nourish Your Inner Goddess" gift pack, which includes these great items to help you relax and two VIP coupons for free Yoplait Greek yogurt!! To enter the giveaway just leave a comment telling me which of the four delicious flavors (Strawberry, Blueberry, Honey Vanilla and/or Plain) you want to try... I had a hard time deciding which flavor to get! On Wednesday (3/31/10) a random winner will be chosen from my comments and contacted to receive the Yoplait Greek "Nourish Your Inner Goddess" gift pack, seriously... how cool is that?!
I decided to try the plain Yoplait Greek and make gyros and I'm so glad I used Greek yogurt, it saved me SO much time! You see, if you use regular yogurt you have to strain all the moisture out with a cheesecloth. That's what Greek yogurt is, strained yogurt... I'm hoping I sound smart for knowing this, because really I didn't know the difference until yesterday ,-) To make the gyros you'll need Chicken Souvlaki and Tzatziki (Greek Cucumber Salad), let's get started! Here's the cast of characters... Chicken Souvlaki Ingredients
1 pound chicken breast (cut into chunks)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 lemon (juice and zest)
1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Tzatziki (Greek Cucumber Salad) Ingredients
1 1/3 (6 ounce) containers Greek yogurt
1 cucumber (peeled, seeded, and shredded, squeezed and drained)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lemon (juiced)
1/2 tablespoon chopped dill
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
salt and pepper to taste

Gyros Ingredients
4 large pita bread rounds
1 head of lettuce (cut into 1/4 inch slices)
1 red onion (thinly sliced), I grilled my onion
1 tomato (halved and sliced)

Chicken Souvlaki Directions
Combine all ingredients, skewer the meat, and let meat marinate for 30 minutes to overnight. Cook on the grill or under a broiler for about 4-5 minutes per side. Tzatziki (Greek Cucumber Salad) Directions
Stir together yogurt, cucumber, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, dill and garlic until well-combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour for best flavor. Gyros Directions
To assemble gyros just warm the pitas. Top with Chicken Souvlaki, Tzatziki, diced tomatoes, lettuce, and sliced onions!

Failed Blueberry Muffins and Failed as a Mom

Friday, March 26, 2010

As a young mom, I have failed in documenting my children’s milestones. To my defense, there was only so much time in a day and I chose to work on school work rather than baby books. But now that I’ve been out of college for a few years I need to get off my booty and start scrapbooking about my boys, and lets face it… this blog is my online scrapbook.

So, the first matter of order, boogers. Yes, boogers! About a year ago my mom sat in Abbott’s seat in my van, she said “Uh…. Carrie? Do you have any wet wipes up there I can use to clean the seat? Abbott’s wiped about 20 boogers on the seat back here!” Eww! So, we had a talk with Abbott about using Kleenex and not wiping boogers, case closed… yeah right!
I sat down in our computer room desk chair (where Abbott plays computer) and *cue Jaws theme music* I glanced at the wall and saw this (click on the picture for the full gross out effect)… 15 boogers smeared on the wall! Holy Stromboli! I immediately closed my eyes… took deep breaths… and prayed for Jesus to protect my no good rascal of a son, because he’s going to spend the rest of his life in time out… facing this wall. These boogers won’t even wipe off, I am going to have to sand the wall down and repaint it…. Or I could leave them on the wall and show every future girlfriend he brings over…

Enough about boogers. Let's get to the food!

These blueberry muffins were yummy but like me with baby books, they failed. The middles are all caved in! I think it’s probably due to me overfilling the muffin cups and weighing them down with too much crumb topping (I used all the crumb topping). Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Crumb Topping:
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Mix oil, egg, and milk with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.

To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup flour, 2 tablespoons butter, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 325 degrees, or until done.

Makes 12 muffins

Tropical Salad

Monday, March 22, 2010

I saw this recipe on Katy's Food for a Hungry Soul website a couple weeks back, it looked so good! I like kiwis, oranges, and well... I've been in love with avocados for quite some time. Justin and the boys didn't care for the salad but I thought it was a nice change, it would be a great salad to eat with my girlfriends on a hot summer day!

Abbott told us his first joke! Wanna hear it?!
......How do you make Lady GaGa mad? ......Poke her face!
Get it? Poker Face is the title of Lady GaGa's popular song! I'm sure he heard the joke from someone else, but this is the first joke he's ever told us. It's such a corny joke but we laughed so hard, he's such a funny guy! Did I mention he got eyeglasses last week? What a stud! Salad Ingredients
4 large oranges
4 kiwi
2 large avocados
Lettuce (I used Spinach leaves)
Dressing Ingredients
Lime juice **
Orange juice **
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup salad oil

Peel the oranges and separate into sections. Use a sharp knife to remove the membrane and the pith, capturing any juices in a bowl. **

Next, cut the avocado lengthwise around the pit. With your hands, twist the avocado halves in opposite directions to separate them. Tap the tip of the knife into the pit so that the knife tip catches the pit and carefully twist the knife to loosen and remove the pit. Peel and then slice the avocado halves.

Peel and slice the kiwi fruit.... word to the wise, use a spoon to remove the skin or you'll have kiwi splinters in your fingers for weeks! Arrange the fruits on a bed of lettuce on a salad plate.

For the dressing, measure the reserved orange juice and add enough lime juice to make 1/2 cup. Add the salt, honey and oil. Whisk thoroughly until well combined. Lightly cover the salad with the dressing, serving any remainder on the side.

Bagel Dogs (or Pretzel Dogs)

Friday, March 19, 2010

I got the recipe for these Bagel Dogs from Real Mom Kitchen so out of respect for her (and her awesome recipe) I called them "Bagel Dogs" but I thought "Pretzel Dogs" was more appropriate because to me it tasted like a soft pretzel wrapped around a hot dog... either way they were a hit! Seriously, I've never had anything like this; it was so good! I set out ketchup and mustard but no one used it, the bagel dogs were delicious on their own (however, Justin wants me to sprinkle chopped jalapenos in the dough next time)! The only negative about this recipe is the time it took me... about 3 hours total but most of that time was letting the dough rise, it's not the kind of recipe you can whip together on a weeknight.

2 cups hot water (110° F)
2 packages, active dry yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons salt
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
12 quality all-beef hot dogs (Ballpark, Nathan's, Kasper's, etc.)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 egg yolk plus 1 tablespoon water, lightly beaten
Sesame seeds, poppy seeds and/or coarse salt for garnish (I didn't use any garnish)

Pour the water into the bowl of an electric stand mixer and sprinkle with the yeast. Let the mixture stand about five minutes or until foamy, then stir in 3 tablespoons of sugar and the salt. Using the paddle attachment and with the mixer on medium speed, gradually add flour, beating until well-blended and smooth, until you have a stiff dough. Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook and knead thoroughly until smooth and elastic in texture. Form the dough into a lump and place it into a lightly greased bowl. Turn the dough over to grease the top. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen, punch it down and knead briefly to eliminate any air bubbles and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 12×9 inch rectangle or until it’s about a 1/4-inch thick, adding flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin or the board. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut 12 1-inch pieces of dough.

Dry the hot dogs thoroughly. Starting at one end of a hot dog, wrap the dough around overlapping slightly as you make your way to the other end. Place seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining hot dogs and strips of dough. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let stand in a warm place for about 30 to 45 minutes.

Preheat the over to 400°. Fill a deep, heavy pot with water and add the baking soda. Bring to a gentle boil. Working 2 to 3 bagels at a time, carefully drop the bagel dogs into the boiling water, turning frequently with a slotted spoon or spatula, for about a minute. Lift out of the water and gently dry each bagel well on a kitchen towel and arrange about 2-inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet, seam side down. Repeat with remaining bagel dogs.

Brush the bagels with the egg glaze and sprinkle on your garnish of choice. Bake for about 35 minutes or until nicely browned and crusty, turning the pan about halfway through (I didn’t turn my pan and I had to bake 3 dogs on another pan. they all wouldn’t fit on one sheet). Serve warm or let cool on a wire rack.

Makes 12 Bagel Dogs

Mango Madness

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

While shopping at Sam's Wholesale Club I came across (what I thought) was a great deal for a pack of 12 mangos! When I got home my math wiz of a son pointed out that the mangos were actually the same price as the individual ones at our local groccery store! That's what I get for not doing the math in the store! So, I had 12 mangos, paid full price for them, and not a single mango recipe in my repertoire. Thankfully we LOVE mangos (Justin even said mangos are his favorite fruit)! So I found two new mango recipes and we had ourselves some mango madness!

Mango Lassi Some old high school friends of ours Shane and Sara posted a blog about their son's bad dream. In the dream his cup was all out of Lassi and he wanted more..... a boy that dreams about food is a kid after my own heart! I'd never heard of Lassi before but turns out it's an Indian drink, similar to a mango smoothie!

1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 cup chopped mango (peeled and stone removed)
4 teaspoons sugar, to taste
A dash of ground cardamom (optional)

Put mango, yogurt, milk, sugar and cardamom into a blender and blend for 2 minutes, then pour into individual glasses, and serve. Can sprinkle with a little cardamom. The lassi can be kept refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Makes about 2 cups.

Mango Ice Cream I found this recipe on Gourmet Mom On-The-Go's website, she made Creamy Mango Pops, but I don't have the popsicle holders, so I followed her suggestion and froze our ice cream in a large ziploc. It worked great!

2 very ripe mangoes, with the skin and the pits removed
3/4 cup coconut milk (I used light coconut milk to reduce the fat content)
1/2 cup pineapple juice concentrate
1 Tablespoon sugar

Blend together until creamy and smooth. Pour into a large zip-type plastic freezer bag, seal completely, and lay flat in your freezer for at least 2 hours. When frozen, simply scoop with a metal spoon to serve!

Angel Strawberry Bavarian

Sunday, March 14, 2010

**December 2010 tip- I've made this dessert a few times now (it's still my favorite) and have found that it's easier to layer the dessert in a 9x13 pan instead of an angel food cake pan. It's easier to serve. This really is a crowd pleasing dessert!
This cake is so good! I've had it twice in the last couple weeks and I am addicted... seriously, I think I could eat the whole cake all by myself! I like light cakes; I am not a chocoholic, ice cream lover, or peanut butter and chocolate fanatic (like Justin). I actually prefer a bowl of cereal to most desserts, but this cake is right down my ally. We had my parents over last night for dinner and a movie and I served this cake! With the exception of a rogue hair incident (I need to start wearing a hairnet), this cake was a HUGE hit! The fluffy strawberry mousse with sprinkles of Angel Food Cake squares is cool and refreshing! I found the recipe on Duncan Hines website.

1 Angel Food Cake (can be bought or homemade... I bought mine)
1 (24 ounce) tub frozen sweetened sliced strawberries, thawed
1 (3 ounce) package strawberry gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1 (8 ounce) container non-dairy whipped topping

Cut the angel food cake into 1-inch cubes. Drain thawed strawberries, reserving juice. Combine gelatin and boiling water in small bowl. Stir until gelatin is dissolved. Hopefully you'll have 1 cup of strawberry juice (if not add a little water to make 1 cup); stir 1 cup strawberry juice into gelatin. Refrigerate until gelatin is slightly thickened (around 30 minutes). Beat gelatin until foamy.
Fold together 1 container whipped topping, gelatin and 1/4-1/2 cup strawberries. Alternate layers of cake cubes and strawberry mixture into 10-inch tube pan (Angel Food Cake pan). Press lightly. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours. You can unmold cake onto serving platter but it will need to be covered and stored in fridge (we ate and stored ours in the Angel Food Cake pan).


Monday, March 8, 2010

There will be no more complaining from me, I got a couple hours of much needed rest this weekend! We still had a busy weekend... Justin rearranged our bedroom and Andrew had a friend spend the night, but at least we got to stay home! I cracked open the windows (for the first time this year) and got some spring cleaning done! The house is clean and I'm caught up on laundry and dishes... did I mention this was a wonderful weekend?! :-)
I've been making this manicotti for over 10 years. I got the recipe from Justin's mom Trish, she even made it for Justin's brother Chad's wedding rehearsal dinner!

1 package manicotti noodles (14 pieces)
1 3/4 cups (15 oz container) ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (or dried Italian seasoning)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 cups (28 oz jar) spaghetti sauce
Extra mozzarella and Parmesan cheese for topping (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Cool in single layer on foil. In large bowl, stir together cheeses, parsley, salt and pepper; pipe into cooled pasta tubes (I put the cheese mixture in a ziploc, cut the corner off the ziploc and pipe the cheese into the noodles). Spread thin layer of sauce on bottom of 13x9 inch baking dish; arrange filled pasta in single layer over sauce. Pour remaining sauce over pasta; cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove foil; top with extra cheese if desired and bake 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I watched a movie yesterday called Motherhood (starring Uma Thurman), while waiting in the car for an hour and a a mom I bet I spend half my life in my car taking kids, picking up kids, and waiting on kids (in this case I was actually waiting on my husband to get out of physical therapy). The movie was about a frazzled mom trying to juggle personal ambition and familial needs. Just when the mom loses it and decides she can't take anything else her husband miraculously shows up with a $25,000 check he got for trading in a book he found on the street. Sorry to spoil the ending but the movie really wasn't that good. The ending was frustratingly unrealistic because in life we never get bailed out when it gets too overwhelming and stressful. Ok, I won't complain because Justin and I have overcome humongous hurdles and through the grace of God have come out on top. However, I will say this, motherhood is hard and if it weren't for my AMAZING husband I wouldn't be able to survive it.
I had a breakdown on Tuesday because we were out of food for the boys lunches (our weekend was too busy to go to the groccery store), the boys were completely out of clean clothes, my van had a seriously flat tire, and when I got home the boys were both crying and yelling that this has been the "worst day ever" for them (because of things that happened at school). I would have given up right then, threw my hands into the air and cried "uncle" if it weren't for Justin. He sprang into action helping fix everything (he even went to the groccery store alone). So in my happy ending I never get a surprise $25,000 check but I do get a loving husband who helps with everything. He is amazing!
Wow, I practically wrote a book... I didn't realize I had so much to say! I really should have been writing about this salad because it is a very good salad! The chicken isn't too spicy when mixed with the ranch, it was perfect for me (the gal who can't handle any spicy). Justin and Andrew drizzled more hot sauce on their salads. I think this would be a great salad to make for someone who doesn't like salads! It's tasty, hearty, and wonderful! I'm totally making it again next week!

2 heads of romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 cup ranch dressing (I prefer to make my own using the Hidden Vally mix packet, Hellman's mayonnaise, and milk)
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
2 chicken breasts, cut into small bite sized pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup hot sauce (I use Frank's Buffalo Sauce)

In a small bowl make your ranch dressing, stir in the blue cheese crumbles, and set aside in the fridge. Season cubed chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over high heat, and pour in the oil. Just before the oil starts to smoke, add the chicken. Cook to brown evenly, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add hot sauce. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Toss together the lettuce and ranch dressing mixture in a large bowl. Top salad with chicken, and serve.