Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Raspberry mug cake

The other day Andy was wanting a dessert, and we didn't really have anything sweet in the house.  So I decided to try and make some mug cakes. It was so easy, and quite good.  Granted, we kind of overcooked it, so the bottom was burnt, but it was still very yummy!

When I first told him my idea, what he took from what I said is that if you put strawberries and strawberry yogurt in the microwave you get cake.  In reality there were a few more steps, but it was still very easy, and took about 5 minutes start to finish.

We thought we had strawberry yogurt, but we had raspberry instead, so this was our raspberry mug cake.

1 egg

2 tablespoons raspberry yogurt, well stirred

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

5 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup fresh raspberries and whipped cream for serving

1. First coat the inside of the mug lightly with cooking oil, and set aside.
2. Mix the egg, yogurt, vegetable oil, baking powder, extract, sugar and flour in a small bowl until completely smooth.


3. Fill the mug to halfway full and place it in the microwave. Bake it in the microwave for 2.5 to 4 minutes (start at the low end), or until a cake tester comes out clean. Top with raspberries and whipped cream and serve.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My new artwork

The other night I was inspired by Pinterest yet again.  I pulled out the toilet paper rolls I had been saving up and went to work.
 I measured and cut half inch sections of the rolls.

Painted most of them red, and made a few black for contrast.

 After trying out multiple things, this is the pattern I ended up with.  And this is where I got overambitious. I decided they needed frames to hang on our ugly yellow-ish tan walls, (that unfortunately we can't paint due to apartment regulations).  But the problem was that frames to fit these canvases would be quite expensive.  So in my mind, the obvious solution was to just make them myself.  Great idea, but turned out a bigger project than I had anticipated.

To make the frames, we bought a few pieces of moulding, measured out the lengths and angles, and I had Andy help me with the cutting. But the saw battery died...on the first cut.  So the project was put on hold for the day.  The next day I was on my own (because Andy was at work), but I continued the cutting process, and eventually got all the pieces to approximately the correct length, and angle.  But in doing so I really learned the importance of having the correct tools.  As it turns out, cutting 45 degree angles while standing on a stool, leaning over a railing, lying on the piece you are cutting, while maneuvering a circular saw is easier said than done. Despite the rather obvious imperfections, I got the boards nailed and glued together, and just filled in the gaps with makeshift caulking. (Oh, and I found out it takes a really long time for spray paint to dry when kept at about freezing temperatures...)

Despite the trouble that these frames ended up being, I think they turned out alright.  One of my favorite parts of this is the versatility.  If I get tired of the design, I can easily peel off the rolls and instead paint something on the canvas, or just make a new design.  The frames can of course be reused.
Let me know what you think of my project!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tacky Sweaters

Our church young adult group has a monthly get together and lunch after church.  Usually we just eat, and hang out getting to know people we may not otherwise see.  This week it will be a bit different.  The theme is Tacky Sweaters.  The other day we went to the thrift store to find some tacky sweaters and weren't having a whole lot of luck.  Nothing was looking extraordinarily tacky.  So I proposed that we make some sweaters tacky.  We started out by finding matching sweaters, bought a bunch of rhinestones, bells and went to work.  This was our evening project the other night, assembling our "masterpieces".  Hahaha!

Update: we won the contest by the way :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas decorating

Just wanted to post a few pictures of our Christmas decor.  I wasn't sure what to do with all my blue and silver ornaments and such when our living room's normal decor is in the red and black color scheme.  But I added a few red elements to the balls and I think they  turned out great. Let me know what you think.

Apparently I will need to get the real camera out to take halfway decent pictures of the Christmas tree...

Reese's Cheesecake Brownies and Christmas trees

Today when Andy got home from work we went to get a Christmas tree, The thing is, that at almost 9:30pm on a Sunday night, Walmart was about our only option. And even there, the garden section was closed, so he had to carry the tree through the store.  This led to us receiving comical glances all the way through the store. Especially since he decided it was a perfect excuse to buy a handsaw...
When we got home we made a deal, that if he set up and put the lights on the tree I would make the Reese's Cheesecake Brownies that I had seen pictures of about a week ago.  He happily agreed.

The Reese's Cheesecake Brownie Recipe:
  • Brownie mix (and whatever it may call for)
  • 1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter
  • 1 (12 oz) package of Reese's Pieces candies
  • 1 (12 oz) package of chocolate chips
  • 3 tbs of whipping cream
  • 8-10 Reese's chopped into chunks
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and lightly coat a 9x13" pan with cooking oil.
Prepare brownies according to package and spread batter into the pan, set aside.

In a large bowl beat cream cheese until smooth, add sweetened condensed milk and continue to beat.  Mix in peanut butter.  Stir in Reese's Pieces.

Spoon the mixture over the brownie batter, and spread as evenly as possible.
Bake for 40 minutes or until cheesecake has set and is brown around the edges. Cool for 30 minutes, refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To a microwaveable bowl add chocolate chips and whipping cream. Microwave on high for 1 minute, or until melted, checking and stirring half way through. Stir until smooth.

Spread over the cooled cheesecake layer.
Sprinkle chopped Reese's over the top. Store covered in the refrigerator.

But be warned, this is very very rich, and I would not recommend serving pieces as large as shown in the picture.  Andy is convinced this is the best thing he has ever put into his mouth, I hope you all enjoy it as well!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Track out days

The girls that I usually only nanny for in the afternoon have been tracked out, and so I have had them for a few whole days each week.  I have made it a goal to either go somewhere they would like, or do some new project each day, so as to make their break fun and special.

So far we have gone shopping, made paper animals,
made stuffed animals from socks,

made animals and ornaments from homemade salt clay

and a whole lot of drawing

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Chicken Curry

Recipe of: Lynn Littleton/Maryann Wilson :)

4-5 onions
6-8 apples
3 Tbs butter
Olive oil for sauteing
3lbs chicken breast diced
Cardoman 2tsp (or Cumin 1/2tsp)
Curry pwd 3-4 Tbs
Garlic pwd 1 1/2 tbs (or to taste)
Salt 1 tsp (or to taste)
Pepper 1/2 tsp (or to taste)
Large can of College Inn chicken broth

Saute the onions and apples in butter and olive oil. In a separate skillet, brown the chicken.  Combine chicken with the apple & onions.  Add salt pepper, cardoman, curry, garlic powder, chicken broth.  Possibly add more curry (to taste).  If it is too thin, add a little corn starch.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.

Serve with yellow rice, and have coconut, peanuts, raisins and pineapples for toppings.

I will add a picture when I make it again and take one :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cooking day

So this weekend a friend and I stocked our freezers with meals.  When working late and busy schedules take over, it is so convenient to have dinner in the freezer.  The prep from this point is so simple that Andy has no trouble following the instructions on the bags.  Preparing it all led to a long and exhausting day, no doubt. But I feel such a sense of accomplishment upon opening my freezer, knowing we will eat well for weeks if not months ahead.  We ended up making 44 meals, which means we won't be going hungry for quite a while, even on the days I end up working late ;)
If we had stacked these straight while they froze this would look so much better...
The menu this time around.  We went with mostly a bunch of meals that we haven't tried before, so I will have to let you know how they turn out.  But here are the links to the recipes.
Chicken Alfredo
Twice Baked Potatoes
Seafood Pasta Casserole (We substituted shrimp for the crab meat)
Bacon wrapped chicken with cream cheese filling (For this you just freeze after wrapping, and sear and bake after defrosting)
Southwest Corn & ham chowder
Cream Cheese Potato Soup
Honey Glazed Pork Chop
Angel Chicken Pasta
My mom's fantastic Chicken Curry
and a bunch of other recipes I can't seem to find the links for right now (Potato soup, Chickaroni, Meatballs, Hamburgers, Quesadillas, Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie, White Chicken Chili, and a few others).

Yes, I know many of these aren't very healthy, but oh well. I could have made things that are more healthy, and had to deal with my husband lament the fact that it is "healthy" :P

A few tips for packaging and putting things in the freezer. Everything that possibly can should be put in a freezer ziploc bag (or two). This is for convenience sake in the freezer. If you leave things in baking dishes your freezer fills up with just a few meals.  Also, clearly label, date and put cooking/reheating instructions on each bag.  I would also recommend labeling the bags at the bottom (so that you can see the name without pulling everything out).

If you are new to the whole concept of cooking ahead and freezing, check out these tips. While many things freeze very well, there are some things that are better off added fresh