January 27, 2011

Scentsy Giveaway

Scentsy Wickless Candles
 Have you heard of Scentsy before?  If you have then great, you're one of millions who LOVE this product.

If not....let me help.  Here's a rundown of what you can expect.
  • A flame less warmer (so if you leave it on it won't burn your house down). Big plus right?
  • Beautiful warmers, so many to choose from you might want three or four or five...you get the picture. There are some for your kids rooms, and sports fans, and military...there are a lot.
  • Fragrances, yeah there are a lot of those too. 
  • Safety.  These are not flame lit warmers, they are warmed by a light bulb.  The neato thing is that they only get as hot as your body temperature - so no burns.  Great for kids and Seniors who might tip it over.  Or, if you're like me and you're neither a child or a senior you might still tip it over.
  • It's not just warmers, it's room sprays, travel tins, plush toys for the kiddo's, plug-in warmers, and medium sized warmers. So many choices!
This giveaway will include one warmer, and one bar scent of your choice.  You can browse the catalog and/or place an order HERE. My friend Kristi is donating this wonderful product and she is available to answer any question you may have.


Leave a comment below with an answer to this question.  What are you most looking forward to doing this year? Please leave your email address so you can be contacted if you are the winner. If you are not comfortable leaving your email address you can check back here to see when I announce the winner and then email me directly.

That's it, it's simple.  You can leave a one word answer or a 3 paragraph long answer.  The winner will be chosen in a random drawing on Friday February 4th.  Only one entry per person please. 

Ina Garten Sesame Noodles

OK, I have to confess that the original title of this recipe is actually "Crunchy Noodle Salad"....but I didn't have any of the "crunchies" that were needed.  I did have noodles though, and I had all the sauces, oils, spices, etc. so being the rebel that I am I forged on without the veggies. I'm dangerous like that.

I already have a sesame noodle recipe that I LOVE from Pioneer Woman but I wanted to branch out and make sure I tried other recipes, to be fair and all.

I have to say, this recipe has peanut butter, which I love.  I wasn't sure how I would like it but I found it really enjoyable.  Now, I think it would have been fantastic with all the veggies in it like Mrs. Garten's recipe indicates.  There was quite a bit of sauce in mine which wasn't a problem for me.  It did take me a little while to get used to the peanut butter aspect, but after a mouthful I was over that trepidation and on to full on enjoying it. 

The sauce is pretty easy to put together, just dump everything into a bowl and mix.  Not hard right?

Looks lovely doesn't it? I just dumped the cooked noodles into the sauce and let them sit for about 10 minutes to soak in that goodness.  Then I ate it.

Here is the link to Ina's Recipe: Ina Garten Crunchy Noodle Salad

I modified this recipe in only one way, I didn't add the veggies.

January 26, 2011

Apple Bread

Recently my daughter and I took a little drive to Atlanta to see my husband.  He's there doing some training and we wanted to catch some of the Atlanta sites anyway, so why not?  I knew he'd be missing home a little bit so I wanted to make him something that was easily transported, somewhat healthy, and delicious. 

The grocery stores are packed full of apples so I knew apple would be the theme.  This bread was awesome.  I didn't get any pictures of the inside since we cut it - well actually we tore pieces off while we were at the hotel.  We ate this pretty much any time of day that we wanted a little snack but I think it's perfect for breakfast.  My daughter (miss picky eater) even liked it.  In our household that is a MAJOR win!

Spray a 8x4 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray; then add some parchment paper and spray that as well.

I made some slight alterations to the original recipe that was posted on Brown Eyed Baker's recipe, just to keep it a little healthier.  I added 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour to the recipe as you can see above.  I honestly thing you could do the whole thing with whole wheat and it would be just as good.  In fact, I'll try that next time.

This does have a cup of sugar, but I did say this is "mostly" healthy.  I should note here also, I added all applesauce when the original recipe does have some oil.  So I added 1/2 cup of apple sauce total.

I think next time I'll cut the apples slightly smaller.  But I did enjoy the burst of apple flavor that these larger pieces added.

Once you've combined the flour and the wet mixture together, add the apples and stir by hand to incorporate.

This is the cinnamon sugar topping.  Yum.  This could have been left out if you really wanted to cut back on some sugar.

Ready to bake.

Yum, so good.  Makes your house smell wonderful.  Try to let this cool before cutting especially if you have big chunks of apple like I did.  I will be making this again for sure.

Here is the recipe from Brown Eyed Baker, I noted my changes below. Here is the link to Brown Eyed Baker's recipe: Apple Cinnamon Bread

Yield: One 8×4-inch loaf

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 50 to 55 minutes

1½ cups all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
¼ cup canola oil (I didn't use oil at all)
¼ cup applesauce (I used 1/2 cup of applesauce instead of the oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups peeled and chopped apples (about 1½ to 2 apples)

2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×4-inch loaf pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper; set the pan aside.
2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, allspice and cloves. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add in the oil, applesauce and vanilla and mix until smooth. Next, add the sugar and mix until well-combined.
4. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the flour mixture and mix until the flour is just barely combined. Gently fold in the apples with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
5. In a small bowl mix together the brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over the batter in the loaf pan. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the loaf is golden and a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes, then run a dull knife around the sides of the loaf and turn it out on a cooling rack, remove the parchment paper and place right-side up. Cool completely before slicing. Wrap leftover loaf in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

January 24, 2011

Quick Carmel

What do you do with a leftover can of Sweetened Condensed Milk? Make Carmel.  I knew I'd seen a recipe somewhere on how to make Carmel with this stuff so it didn't take long to find it on the Internet.
This is quick, easy and mess free for the most part. 

I dolloped some on apple slices and snacked on these.  The texture is nice and smooth with that lovely Carmel taste.  I could totally eat spoonfuls of this stuff...but I didn't. 

Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a 9" pie plate.

Cover with aluminum foil and place into a larger dish.

Pour some water into the larger dish and then carefully put it into the oven.

Bake at 425 for an hour.

Now whisk until smooth.  Lovely.  Delicious.

Mmmmmm, I want more.

Pour 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk into 9″ pie plate. Cover with aluminum foil; place in larger shallow pan. Fill larger pan with hot water. Bake at 425°F for 1 hour or until thick and caramel-colored. Beat until smooth.

For some different cooking methods click here

January 18, 2011

Ina Garten Outrageous Brownies

Yep, just like the name says.  Outrageous.  Very deep dark chocolate flavor, very different from the milk boxed brownie variety.  I did make these twice very close to each other because I made a mistake the first time.  Lets just say they were VERY chocolaty the first time, and I left out the nuts.  The second time I made them (pretty much) exactly as the recipe states.

These have a nice chewy texture, I left the nuts pretty chunky because my husband likes them that way.  I think the next time I make these I'll try to tone down the chocolate a little and use some more milk chocolate in place of the semi-sweet, and try semi-sweet in place of the unsweetened. 

Here's what I did:

Melt a pound of butter over a double boiler.  We're off to a good start already aren't we?

Add some of the semi-sweet chocolate chips (this is where I made the mistake by adding in ALL the chocolate instead of reserving some for later).

Add in the bakers chocolate, cut it up a little so it melts easier.

It's starting to melt now.

Getting close now.

Now it's ready, remove it from the heat so it can cool down some.

Now add the eggs, coffee, sugar, and vanilla to a bowl and mix by hand.

there, mixed.

Now add the slightly cooled chocolate to the egg mixture.  Make sure the mixture isn't so hot that it cooks the egg. It needs to be room temperature.

Mix thoroughly by hand.

I didn't take pictures of the flour mixture - but go ahead and mix that into the chocolate mixture also.

Mix the remaining chocolate (Yes, I added more even though it was an entire bag of EXTRA chocolate).  I wanted the chunks, what can I say?  Anyways, mix the chocolate with some flour and then add to the mixture.

Use a jelly roll pan, this makes a lot of brownies.  When I made these the second time I halved the recipe and added nuts.

The pictures above are from the second batch that I added the nuts too.  My hubby took these with him to a training class that he's in.  He shared, he's nice like that.

Here is the recipe: Ina Garten Outrageous Brownies

January 15, 2011

Roasted Acorn Squash

I hate to admit that I've never (in memory) had an acorn squash before.  In my attempt to try to post some healthier variety on this blog I decided to give it a try.  I mean, I like other squashes so how different could it be right? Right! I found a recipe on one of my favorite recipe sites and gave it a whirl.  It was yummy!  Easy, delicious, and mostly healthy (except for the butter and brown sugar).

Here's what I did.

Here is an acorn squash.  Purdy huh?

Now cut the sucker in half.

Clean it out really well using a spoon and discard the seeds and slimy stuff.

Add a Tbsp of butter (1/2 in each), and 2 Tbsp of brown sugar (1 in each).  Put the squash in a dish where they'll stay upright during the cooking process.

Put some water in the bottom of the dish.  I'd say about 1/4 of the way up the side of the dish. This will keep the squash moist.

I opened the oven and brushed some of the butter mixture on the edges of the squash during cooking.

Let the squash cool for a little while (like 10 to 15 minutes) before scraping the yumminess out of the shell.  Make sure to keep all that butter and brown sugar in with the meat of the squash.  It doesn't make it too sweet, but gives it the perfect amount of flavor/sweetness.  I'm definitely an acorn squash lover after this. 

You can find the recipe here: Acorn Squash
I read some of the comments and followed the suggestions.  I didn't turn them while cooking, I put them in a small pan with some water in it and it worked out just fine.

You will need:

1 Acorn squash, cut in half and seeded
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp brown sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the cut and seeded squash cut side up in a small dish (I used a 9x9) so that they will stay up without falling over.  Put 1/2 Tbsp of butter in each squash, add 1 Tbsp of brown sugar to each squash.  Fill the dish with a little water and cook for 1 hour. I brushed the cut side of the squash with the butter/sugar mixture once during cooking.  Let sit for at least 10 minutes before removing the squash from it's shell.  Enjoy!

January 11, 2011

Gramma's Hot Cocoa - an experiment

You are looking at three types of Hot Cocoa.  The darkest one on the left is the Alton Brown recipe I made not long ago.  The top and bottom are two I just did an experiment with.  Well, here's how it started.  I posted my recipe for Alton Brown's Hot Cocoa and my Aunt mentioned that my gramma used to make hot cocoa with just three simple ingredients.  It intrigued me because 1) all my grammas recipes make me happy 2) you can make this by the mug instead of making a huge batch of it that you store in your pantry 3) I happened to have all the needed ingredients on hand.

So, there I was....snowed in at home, child was up taking her nap....and so I said to myself - self I said, why don't you whip up a cup of hot cocoa - gramma style.  So I emailed my dad and asked  him if he remembered the recipe because my Aunt thought it was 1 tsp. cocoa powder, 2 tsp sugar, and a little canned milk.  My dad emailed me back saying he wasn't sure exactly if it was evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk.  I felt compelled to find out! COMPELLED I SAY!

Above you can see my testing station.  Sugar, cocoa, and two types of milk.

Into each mug I put 1 tsp. of cocoa powder. I should mention, this was just regular cocoa powder and not the Dutch Processed kind.

Into each cup I put 2 tsp. sugar.

Preparing to add the different types of milk.

One cup gets a tiny bit of the evaporated milk...

the other gets a little sweetened condensed milk...

Make a paste.

Paste again

My instructions said to fill it up about 1/3 of the way with more canned milk - so I did.  This is obviously the evaporated milk version.

Topped off with hot water.

I only added about another Tbsp of sweetened condensed milk before realizing that it would be WAY too sweet if I added more....

So I used regular 2% milk to fill it 1/3 full.

Then topped it off with hot water.

So here's my conclusion.

the evaporated milk version was much creamier and sweeter and therefore I preferred it.
The condensed milk version needed another tsp of sugar to make it sweet enough and then it was very tasty and much easier to make since it's not as thick.

I compared these two against the Alton Brown cocoa mix I posted a while ago and decided that its sort of what you're in the mood for.  the Alton Brown cocoa is very rich, deep chocolate taste. Great for dark chocolate lovers.
The other two were made with regular unsweetened cocoa powder and therefore resembled more of a milk chocolate taste.  I did prefer the SCM version because of it's creaminess but would probably end up making the EM version sooner because its much quicker.

I hope you've enjoyed my experiment.  It was so much fun that I'm going to have to look around for other things to test.

Gramma's Hot Cocoa

1 tsp regular unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tsp sugar
1/4 - 1/2 cup of evaporated milk (depending on your mug size)


1 tsp regular unsweetened cocoa power
2 tsp sugar (I honestly think you can skip this here, the SCM is sweet enough)
2 Tbsp sweetened condensed milk

Add the cocoa to your mug and then the sugar (or not), then just enough of whichever canned milk you choose to make a paste.  If you're using the evaporated milk - add enough to fill about 1/3 of the cup.  If you're using SCM use regular milk to make 1/3 of the cup. Top these off with hot water and mix well.