Sunday, September 14, 2014

Captain America Brownie Shields


This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. 
All opinions are mine alone. #HeroesEatMMs #CollectiveBias


When my daughter was little and my husband and I would try to get her to watch a movie about Superheroes she would tell us "Superhero movies are for boys!" and she would sit on the couch with her back turned to the tv. This went on for years and nothing we could say to her would change her mind... that is, until we told her she was going to have a baby brother. From that day on, she started watching them. She said that once her brother was born he was going to love them and she would have to get used to having them on all the time. Once she started watching them she grew to love them. I mean love them. She requests them now. She gets excited when she hears about a new one coming out. My daughter! The same girl who would plug her ears as soon as we turned one on. So, you can imagine her excitement once she heard about the new Captain America: The Winter Soldier movie that was going to be coming to DVD! 

In our house we use any excuse to make themed food. I'm sure you've noticed that over the years! I love coming up with desserts, snacks and ideas to help up celebrate new movies that are coming out, so I took advantage of the fact that the new Captain America movie was going to be coming to DVD on September 9th!

We decided that we had to create something with Captain America's shield, because, well, it's just super cool. Can we all agree on that? I thought so.


The first step of creating our awesome Superhero dessert was to head to Walmart to pick up supplies. Plus, I hadn't done any grocery shopping and needed dinner ingredients, too!

Since my daughter is a complete M&M® freak we picked up a bag of mini M&M's to use on our Captain America shields! We also snagged a box of brownie mix and some white chocolate chips (for the shield coating!)


I just love the pretty color of the M&M's minis bag. Plus, little tiny M&M's are adorable.


I assigned my daughter the task of separating the red and blue M&M's from the bag. I told her that only a real superhero could perform such an important task... Doesn't she look thrilled? I'm pretty sure she's getting to the age where she can't be fooled...


Next we baked our box of brownies in a 9"x13" pan. I first lined the pan with aluminum foil so it would be easy to remove and get perfectly perfect round brownies. I didn't realize it at the time but I arranged them in a star shape. How cute am I?


The next step was to melt the white chocolate and cover the brownies! Using a fork to pull them out is the easiest way to keep dipping as mess-free as possible. 


I placed them all on the only thing I had -- plastic wrap -- before decorating. If you have parchment paper or wax paper, that, of course is the preferred choice. But, my 16-month-old has discovered the drawer where I keep those items and likes to unroll them while running through the house. This is of course after he's removed his diaper and smashed raspberries into my couch.


The next step is the fun step! Use the red M&M's to create a circle around the edge of the brownie. Then, place a couple mini blue M&M's in the center and surround them with more mini red M&M's.


After you've put on your little white chocolate stars, you can sit back and admire the awesome little Captain America Shields you have just created! Eat them, watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier, then go to the Heroes Eat M&M's site to find more M&M recipes and while you're there you can find out what superhero YOU (and your kids) are! Apparently I'm the Hulk! Which is my husband's favorite superhero... so, I guess it makes sense! ;) Plus, if you've seen me while I'm making a batch of cake pops that keep cracking, you'd understand how fitting it really is...

Also, before you head to the store to pick up the movie, download this coupon and save $5 when you purchase 2 (15.4 ounces or larger) bags of M&M's and the Captain America: The Winter Soldier DVD at Walmart!

Have a SUPER day!

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Captain America Brownie Shields:

Ingredients:
  • 1 box brownie mix
  • Eggs *According to package directions
  • Oil *According to package directions
  • Water *According to package directions
  • 12 ounce bag Mini M&M's ®
  • 11 ounce bag White Chocolate Chips
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


Directions:

Bake brownies in a 9"x13" pan according to package directions. (I like to line my pan with foil and lightly spray it with nonstick spray for easy removal!) Remove brownies from pan and allow to cool.

While brownies are cooling, separate the red and blue mini M&M's from the package and set aside.

Once brownies have cooled, use a 3" round cookie cutter to cut out 8 brownies.

Microwave white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl (in 30 second intervals) until melted. Place a brownie into the white chocolate, use a spoon to spoon chocolate over the top and a fork to remove them. Place brownies on parchment (or wax) paper. Repeat with remaining brownies.

Before brownies dry, use the red mini M&M's to create a circle around the edge of the brownie. Next, place a couple of blue mini M&M's in the center and use the red mini M&M's to form a circle around them. 

Place about a couple of teaspoons of the remaining melted white chocolate in a ziplock bag, and cut a teeny tiny hole (I'm talkin' tiny!) in the tip. Pipe 8 little white stars on a small piece of parchment (or wax) paper and place into freezer to harden. Once hardened, attach star to center of brownie (the blue M&M's!) 

Allow brownies to harden completely (you can stick them in the fridge for a couple of minutes!) and serve!





Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bacon Wrapped Pulled Pork Stuffed Jalapeños aka "Piggy Poppers"


(BBQ Pulled Pork + Cream Cheese + Cheddar Cheese + Bacon + Jalapeños = Perfect Appetizer!)

I'm going to tell you a little secret right now... are you ready? I love poppers. I love them so, so, so much. I could eat 20 of them in one sitting... Okay, so maybe I shouldn't brag about that. I've actually never gotten to do it, but I know I could... I have that much faith in myself.

This past weekend hubby and I were in a snacking mood. I don't often find myself wanting a snack, but when I do, I want it more than I have ever wanted anything in my whole entire life. That means, when the craving hits, there is no stopping me. I'm like a crazy, hungry, whirlwind of emotions. 

One of the problems I always seem to come upon when I'm making poppers is a lack of proper protection for my hands. Meaning: no gloves. Someday, it's my goal to have a pair of gloves designated specifically for my popper making. They will have their own special little box with gold embellishments and a beautiful inscription. But, until that day comes... I will just try really, really hard not to touch the insides of the peppers as I deseed them. I will also go as quickly as possible and I will not rub my eyes... again. 


For this weekend's special snack I decided that we would need to go all out. I made a small batch of BBQ pulled pork in the crockpot, I bought a pound of bacon, a block of sharp cheddar cheese, a package of cream cheese and, of course, a bunch of Jalapeños. 

These little guys were the best tasting poppers we've ever had! The sweetness of the bbq pork was a perfect addition to the mix and even caused a delicious caramelization on the bacon. Yum! We lovingly nicknamed these "Piggy Poppers" because of the sheer amount of pork in each pepper! Almost too much goodness to handle! Whip up a batch of these for the next football game and you're bound to have guests (or spouses) drooling and begging for more!

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"Piggy Poppers"

Ingredients:
  • 1-1/2 pound pork loin roast
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 pound bacon, cut in half
  • 1 - 1-1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 12 fresh jalapeños


Also needed:
  • Toothpicks
Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place pork roast and chicken broth in slow cooker and cook on low for 7 hours. Remove from slow cooker, place in bowl along with bbq sauce, and shred. Set aside.

Cut jalapeños in half lengthwise, remove seeds and place on (lightly greased) baking sheet. Fill the bottom of each jalapeño with about 2 teaspoons of cream cheese (depending on the size of your pepper.) Top with about 1 heaping tablespoon of the bbq pork mixture and sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese. Wrap bacon half around the pepper and secure with toothpicks.

Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until bacon is crispy and jalapeños are soft.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Hubby's Saturday Morning Breakfast Potatoes


In our home, every Saturday, my dear hubby makes us breakfast and fills us full of the manliest foods ever: sausage, bacon, potatoes and fried eggs. One of his biggest accomplishments in the kitchen has to be his amazing breakfast potatoes. He makes a mean potato, I'm tellin' ya. 

Breakfast potatoes are one of those foods I have never truly conquered. Mostly because I'm not patient enough and I frantically flip them around the pan 50 times and they break up and get mushy. Hubby has a perfect zen about him when he's making his potatoes... he gets in the zone. I think the "zone" is where you need to be to master the art of breakfast potatoes, and someday, I, too, hope to be in the zone. 



These are the tastiest, most flavorful and prettiest breakfast potatoes I ever did see!

Obviously, if you don't like your onions and bell peppers "charred," you don't have to char them. We like to char things here... it's kind of our thing.


So, since tomorrow is Saturday... and since these potatoes are called "Saturday Morning Breakfast Potatoes" ... What do you think i'm going to say next? ;)

Make these on Sunday!! Just kidding. Make them tomorrow morning and come back and tell me how they've forever changed your mornings.



Hubby's Saturday Morning Breakfast Potatoes:

Ingredients:
  • 8 medium red potatoes, diced into 1/2" chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons bacon grease or oil {for frying}
Directions:

In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, place 2 tablespoons of bacon grease or oil, along with diced peppers and onions. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until they are just beginning to soften, then add diced potatoes. Season potatoes with seasoning salt, pepper, paprika and garlic, stir, and cover skillet. Allow potatoes to cook, covered, for 10 minutes.

Remove cover, sprinkle flour over the potatoes, then flip and stir them around. Allow potatoes to cook until outside is crispy and potatoes are tender, about 8-10 minutes  {flip and toss potatoes to make sure they don't burn.}

Remove from heat and serve! You've now made the most delicious breakfast potatoes ever! Pretty easy, right?









Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fun Find: Minted.com



So, if you know me, then you know i'm always looking around online for anything cute, fun and different to give as gifts for birthdays, holidays and other special occasions (especially things for the kitchen!) Well, this time, I was looking at a site that is completely new to me called Minted.com -- Have you heard of it? 

It's a site full of items designed by really talented designers all over the world.  They have everything from invitations, art prints and stationary to business cards, gifts and a ton of other awesome stuff!


As I was browsing around, I came across an adorable Christmas card idea that is actually a small book that can be used for sharing recipes with friends and family during the holidays! How cute is that? I can so imagine sending one out with recipes for my hubby's BBQ rubs, my bacon cheese log and my Rocky Mountain Candy (and maybe even a brownie recipe!)



They also had a couple of different books to use in the kitchen that you can order as a planner, datebook or notebook! (This one is totally going on my Christmas list!) 


Oh, and don't even get me started on the cute little labels! I so need these for my edible Christmas gifts!


I also fell in love with all of the adorable kids thank you notes and stationary and thought they'd be perfect to give to your children as they start a new school year! This one's my favorite! I know my daughter would love them, especially since her grandma just got her a "big girl desk" for her room!


This art print would be adorable in my Kitchen, or anyone's kitchen, really... I can't be selfish.


They also have tons (and I mean TONS) of different invitations for birthdays, weddings, bridal showers, you name it! 

So, if you haven't already, make sure to head over to Minted.com and check out their amazing selection of beautifully designed products and you are sure to find something you want (or need!) or maybe even grab a few gifts along the way! Either way, you'll be happy you looked!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Couponing your way to Dinner: Taco Dogs


This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PackedWithSavings #CollectiveBias


A few years ago I was one of those ladies in the store with the binder full of coupons, a cart full of toothpaste, wax strips and cough drops and a closet overflowing with anything and everything you could imagine. I looked for any and all coupon deals I could find and I spent a good chunk of my time plotting my route and trying to optimize my time. Now, I'm just a mom with 2 kids, using coupons to save money on (mostly) food items, in order to keep our grocery bill at a good point.

Sometimes I miss those days of getting up early and hitting the stores when almost no one is there, except other couponers, and leaving with a cart full of goodies and a bank account that has barely been touched. Other days, when I'm sleeping in until 9 am, I really don't. I like that now I can just get online, scan through the new coupons, print the items that interest me and make my grocery list around that. It helps me keep our weekly grocery budget low, and it allows us to buy name-brand products at a price comparable to the store brands!

I always try to bring you guys recipes that are family-friendly and that will be loved by everyone, but I've decided that on top of that, i'd also like to start focusing a little more on budget-friendly recipes as well. Most people nowadays are getting into the kitchen more and trying to avoid the high expenses that come along with eating out. I'd like to be the first to say that you can cook anything at home that you can find in a restaurant, as long as you're willing to try!

The other day as I was looking through the online coupons, I came across all the different Kraft coupons that were available. Back-to-school time is a great time to find coupons because all the brands know you are getting ready to head to the store and stock up on snacks, dinners, drinks and everything else you're going to need once the days of homework and early bedtimes are back.

I promised my daughter that before she started school we would make one of her favorite things -- hot dogs. But, instead of just normal hot dogs, I wanted to add a special little twist on them... So I decided to make some taco dogs! I had printed coupons for $.75 off Kraft Naturals shredded cheese, $1 off 2 packages of Oscar Mayer hot dogs and $1 off of Taco Bell's sour cream dips, which would be perfect for my creation. (I'll put the link to the coupons at the bottom!)


It was easy to find the Hot dogs and cheese at my local Walmart...


...but the dip was a little more challenging... I ended up finding it inside the refrigerated section with the doors, near the milk. That totally made sense.



Hooray for coupons!


To assemble your taco dogs, you need to first cook your ground beef and add your taco seasoning with a little water to make the sauce. Basically, just follow the directions on the taco seasoning packet! Heat your hot dogs, place them in the bun and spread on the taco meat!

You've gotta add a bunch of cheese, too... Ooey gooey cheesy goodness!


And, of course, a dollop of sour cream dip!


And, finally, top it off with some crushed tortilla chips and tomatoes (and onions, if you'd like!)

Now, sit back and enjoy your delicious, budget-friendly meal!


Click the banner above to find all the great coupons I used to create this meal, plus a TON more!

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Taco Dogs:



Ingredients:
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 1 package Oscar Mayer Beef Franks
  • 10 hot dog buns
  • 3/4 cup shredded Kraft Naturals Triple Cheddar Cheese
  • 4 tablespoons Taco Bell Creamy Jalapeno Sour Cream Dip
  • 1/4 cup crushed tortilla chips
  • *optional chopped tomatoes, onions, etc.

Directions:

Cook ground beef until no longer pink. Add taco seasoning and 3/4 cup water, cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and it has created a sauce. Set aside.

Heat up your beef hot dogs, place them in the hot dog buns and top with about 1/4 cup of the taco meat. Sprinkle cheese over the meat, add a dollop of sour cream dip, crushed tortilla chips and tomatoes, onions, etc.

Makes 10 Taco Dogs




Monday, August 11, 2014

First Day of School Lunch!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.


Back to School time is always a bit bittersweet for me. I love the fact that my daughter will be in school most of the day, learning and having fun with her friends, while I get to sit in my PJ's and watch Netflix... I mean... While I clean and take care of my important tasks, but I also miss her like crazy and miss the fun times we have when she's here.

This year I've made it my mission in life to make sure she has a fun, delicious and not-so-boring lunch. Last year, towards the end, we were doing a lot of the same old stuff, over and over and over again and I know she probably never wants to see another carrot stick or peanut butter and jelly sandwich as long as she lives.


So, this time, when I went to Walmart to pick up some back to school supplies and lunches for her, I took a really good look around to see what fun, new and creative ideas I could come up with for the dreaded school lunchbox. The first thing I spotted were these awesome Nestle Nesquik drinks! They come in 8 ounce bottles and are the perfect size to fit into a lunch bag! I grabbed the strawberry and the chocolate just to keep things interesting.


After that I grabbed a roasted chicken and some rice pilaf, along with some cucumbers, broccoli, celery, cherries and strawberries. Gotta have your fresh fruit and veggies! Then I headed down the candy aisle in search of something sweet -- a special treat! That totally rhymed... I ended up finding a bag of fun size NERDS that would be perfect to pack up for her and her friends to share at lunchtime! I always loved when I was younger and my mom would pack up a couple of extra treats for me to pass out to my friends! It makes for a great conversation starter to make new friends, or even just to remind your old friends how awesome they are!


We have enough to get us through the first week of school... and some! Hooray! Love the feeling of having everything all ready to go for the first day back to school! Makes life so much easier.


You've gotta have enough to share! Sharing is caring, folks... Oh, and strawberry NERDS are the best nerds in my humble opinion. Okay, the grape are good, too. And all the other flavors... You can't go wrong with 'em.


First day of school lunch = something other than a sandwich! Mission accomplished! Roasted chicken, rice pilaf, Nesquik, fresh cherries and NERDS to share!

  • I vow to try my hardest this year to resist the urge to smear a glob of peanut butter on a slice of bread and jelly on another slice and put them together to form a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 


  •  I vow to send extra treats in my daughter's lunch each week, every Friday, so her and her friends will have something fun to look forward to and live happily ever after.


  • Also, I vow to put little notes in my daughter's lunch to remind her how much I love her. You can never say it too many times!



(Click to download and print this love note for your child's lunch! It's important to remind your kids how much they mean to you. no matter how old they are!)

Click here for more delicious ideas for back-to-school!




Sunday, August 10, 2014

Yummy Recipes: Banana Cream Puffs

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AddCoolWhip #CollectiveBias


I recently realized that I haven't really made many desserts this summer. Most of the summer has been spent drinking water and staying hydrated to avoid death. Summer in California is no joke, people. For real. So, this week I decided to pump up the AC and spend my time whipping up a couple of delicious recipes to share with you all. I think you're going to love this one! It's adult and kid-approved.


First I had to grab my supplies while I was shopping at Walmart this week. I had downloaded a coupon  (*while supplies last) for $1 off when you buy 2 JELL-O puddings and a container of Cool Whip and I had to put it to good use!


It looked like a lot of people used Cool Whip this week!


For some reason I grabbed the sugar free Cool Whip, which turned out to be just as awesome as the original. I also picked up a couple of banana pudding JELL-O packages, some eggs, milk, and white chocolate! I already had the flour and butter I needed at home.


The first thing I did was mix together my pudding packages with 3 cups of cold milk. Then, I whisked in the Cool Whip. I covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to get really cold and delicious.


Then, I whipped up my cream puff mixture. I remember before I had my stand mixer and I used to whip it up with only my hand and a wooden spoon. My arm hurts just thinking about it...


Plop, plop... Next I put massive tablespoons full of the mixture on the baking sheet. My trusty old baking sheet... She's been through a lot, but she bakes everything to perfection, so she's still my #1.


Next I filled up my cream puff shells with banana pudding and a couple of slices of banana, drizzled on a little white chocolate and set them in the fridge to chill. 


The result was a tasty little dessert that my whole family raved about. My hubby, who isn't a huge dessert fan, loved them because of their creaminess and their banana-y-ness. He loves anything with bananas and cream. But then again, who doesn't?

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Banana Cream Puffs:

Ingredients:

Cream filling:
2 (3.4 ounce) packages JELL-O Banana Flavored Pudding
3 cups milk
1 (8 ounce) container Cool Whip


Cream Puff shell:
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs

2 bananas, sliced
1/2 cup white chocolate melting disks (or chips), melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine pudding mix and milk in a medium bowl, then gradually mix in Cool Whip. Cover and place in refrigerator to chill.

In a medium saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil. Remove from heat and mix in flour, salt, sugar and vanilla. Mix well. Place in refrigerator and allow mixture to cool for about 6-8 minutes, or until no longer warm.

Place in a mixer (or use a hand mixer) and beat on medium-high speed, adding eggs one at a time and mixing well between each addition.

Drop heaping tablespoons full of the mixture onto a greased baking sheet.

Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes, poke holes in each of the shells, then cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove shells from oven, allow to cool, cut in half, fill each shell with a generous amount of banana cream mixture, along with a couple of banana slices and replace top. 

Drizzle cream puffs with melted white chocolate and place in fridge for about 5 minutes and allow chocolate to harden.

Makes about 20 medium-sized cream puffs.


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