September 2014 archive

Are you Kidding Cake?

When I see a title like this on Pinterest, I have to click and read more.  I mean, I have to know.  Is it “are you kidding” good, is it “are you kidding” easy, or is it so incredible it just could have no other name?  I looked it up on Just a Pinch and basically it’s mixing a cake, 3 eggs and a can of pie filling together.  So, I’ll give them a check for the easy.  Now, let’s see what I thought about the rest.

AnneOpinion
I like that this recipe is so simple to make.  It’s one that I could ask my 7 year old to make and he could do it by himself just fine.
The first time I made it with a chocolate cake and cherry pie filling.  I was sooo not impressed.  The chocolate was way too overpowering for the cherries.  I think that chocolate would be too much for any pie filling, so I would not recommend ever using it.
I decided that before I totally gave up on this cake, I should try it with one of the other flavor combinations that the author suggested.  I thought a Butter Pecan cake mix with apple pie filling sounded good, so that’s what I did.
It was a good cake and it was gone very quickly.  Is it the most amazing cake I’ve ever had? No.  But that’s OK.  Sometimes you just want something that the family will enjoy and is super easy to make.
This is not a pretty cake.  The batter is so thick that it was hard to get a smooth top.  The top ended up looking a little hilly, but it was for the family and no one seemed to notice.
I don’t like having a cake with no frosting so I made up a cinnamon glaze to go on the top.  It complimented the cake really well.
The author also suggested poking chunks of cream cheese into the batter after it was in the pan.  I’ve not tried doing this, but if it sounds like something you’d like, give it a try. Let me know if you like it.
This is a great dessert option for a night when you need to make a quick dessert; or if you’re wanting to get the kids into baking, it’s a great starting recipe.
If you try any combos that you like, please tell me about them!!

Are you Kidding Cake                                                   Printable Recipe

adapted from Just a Pinch
1 cake mix
3 eggs
1 can of pie filling
Glaze for a Butter Pecan Apple Cake
2 T melted butter
1/4 C half and half
1 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 t cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350.  In a bowl whisk cake mix, eggs and pie filling.  (the batter will be thick)  Pour into a greased 9×13 pan.  Smooth the top as much as possible.  Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  While cake is baking, melt butter for the glaze.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and whisk until smooth.
If glazing, immediately poke holes through out the top using a plastic fork.  Turn on timer for 10 minutes.  When timer goes off, pour glaze over the top.  Serve, when cooled, by it self or with ice cream.

Have fun trying! Anne

Linsterine Feet- Does it Work?

Have you seen this pin floating around Pinterest?   It has like 6,300 pins as of right now just on this one picture.  Many others have posted about it too.  It claims that if you soak your feet in a mixture of Listerine, vinegar and water the dry, dead skin will magically come off and you’ll be left with wonderfully soft feet.  With how popular it is, I knew that I needed to do a post on it.  I mentioned it to my friend Dana, and she said, “If you want to know the science of why it works, give me a call.”  Dana is a geneticist and has been a biology teacher at a local Catholic high school, so I figured I’d get a pretty legit explanation from her.
So, here’s why Dana says it works.  The alcohol in the Listerine and the vinegar dry out the top layer of skin.  This  breaks the skin cells apart from each other so they are no longer attached.  When the skin dries, the cells then will just rub off because they are no longer linked together.  The key for me was waiting until they’re dry.  She used the example of when you’re a kid and you put glue on your hand (everybody’s done that right?).  You have to wait for the glue to dry and then it will peel right off.  Pretty cool!  So here is what happened when I actually tried it.

AnneOpinion
This picture is a bit deceptive.  If you read it calls for 1/4 C Listerine, 1/4 C vinegar, and 1/2 C water.  1/4 + 1/4 + 1/2 = 1 C;  That’s it.  It will cover the bottoms and sides of your feet.  I thought that I would need to double it for sure, but it turned out to be just the right amount.
I used one of those pink tubs that the hospital gives you when you have a baby.  It was the perfect size.
Just do it for 10 minutes.  You don’t need to sitting there for an hour.
Your feet will have slight blue tinge to them when they come out.  Don’t worry about it; the blue comes right off.  If you don’t want the blue feet, Dana says that vodka will work the same as the Listerine.
Don’t try and wipe them off right away!  You have to wait for them to dry.  If you don’t feel like just hanging around waiting for your feet to dry, have a hairdryer handy.  Set the hairdryer to low or cool air and get those piggies dry!
The best thing to help get the dead skin off is a pumice stone.  This will get it all off quickly.  You can also use a washcloth or loofah.
Make sure and lotion your feet right after.  Remember, the point of this is to dry them out.
This does remove dead skin, but let’s get real.  If you’re heels have a thick, hard layer of dead skin, this isn’t going to be your magic cure all.  Just go get a pedicure.  This is more of a maintenance thing.

Have fun trying! Anne

Italian Breadsticks

Today is the promised Breadsticks recipe to go with the Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce from Monday.  I was trying to remember when I got this recipe and I realized it was 10 years ago!  I had two kids and I was working with the children in our church congregation, which meant I got to help with the Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet for the first time. Since then I have done many a Blue and Gold (the hazard of being the mother of 5 boys).  For this first Blue and Gold, many a moon ago, we had planned lasagna for dinner and had asked some of the parents to bring French bread.  My friend Suzanne decided to go above and beyond the call of duty and bring homemade breadsticks.  This breadsticks were inhaled so quickly, that I don’t think they lasted more than 5 minutes.  I quickly grabbed a half of one, that’s all that was left, and it was as good as I had hoped it would be.  I made sure that I got the recipe from Suzanne immediately and over the years, when ever I’ve made this recipe for family and friends, it always gets rave reviews.  I didn’t think that they could be improved upon but then….I found this.  I first made this Garlic Bread Seasoning from Our Best Bites a couple of years ago and I made it several times since and always have it on hand.  Here’s why.


AnneOpinion
The Garlic Bread Seasoning is amazingly versatile. I use it on my garlic bread, breadsticks, in my pizza sauce and we sprinkle it on all of our Italian dishes.
Place it in a glass jar and it will keep in the refrigerator for months.
When something is this simple and this good, there really is no excuse to not make it.  MAKE IT!!

The breadsticks are a pretty simple and straight forward dough.
I prefer to use instant yeast, not dry active yeast.  Instant does not require any time in water to become active.  You can measure it right into your flour and begin kneading immediately.  It comes in a vacuum sealed package, like the one pictured.  After opening it, you will want to keep it in a glass jar in the refrigerator to keep it fresh as long as possible.

Over the years I’ve done everything from rolling the breadsticks out like snakes to rolling the whole thing into a rectangle, cutting strips, and putting them in the pan.
Right now I either cut into strips, twist, and put them in the pan, or I cut into strips, drape the strip evenly over my index finger, and then twist the two sides around each other. (I hope that makes sense)
Other things that I have sprinkled on the breadsticks are Kosher salt and Parmesan cheese.

Breadsticks                                                                                       Printable Recipe
Recipe from AnneOpinion

1/2 C milk
3 T butter
2 t salt
3 T sugar
1 1/2 C water
2 T instant yeast
4-5 C flour
1 stick of melted butter for pan
Mix milk, butter, salt, and sugar in a microwave safe container and heat for 1 1/2 minutes.  Cool to under 120 degrees.  Pour in stand mixer.  Add water, yeast and flour.  Knead in mixer for 6 minutes.  Let rest, covered with a damp towel,  for 30 minutes.  Melt the stick of butter and pour it into a baking pan. (make sure it has sides or your butter will go everywhere) Place dough on a Roul’ Pat or a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a rectangle, cut (if you’re on a floured surface you can use a pizza cutter; on a Roul Pat, only use a butter knife) and shape breadsticks as desired and place in a baking pan.  I normally get 17-20 breadsticks. Cover pan and allow dough to rise for another 30 minutes.
When there’s about 15 minutes to go, preheat your oven to 350. When done rising, bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Rub some butter on top of the breadsticks and sprinkle with garlic bread seasoning, kosher salt or Parmesan.
Garlic Bread Seasoning                                                             Printable Recipe
Recipe from Our Best Bites
1/2 c. powdered Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. basil
2 tsp. marjoram
2 tsp. parsley
Instructions: 

Combine ingredients in a jar (preferably one with a sprinkle top) and shake. Well, don’t shake until you’ve put the lid on, but I assume most of you are smart enough to figure that out! :)

Sprinkle on top of breadsticks or combine 1 1/2 Tbsp. seasoning with 1/2 c. of softened real butter and spread on a loaf of French bread (cut in 1/2 lengthwise). Wrap in foil and bake at 375 until butter’s melted. If you want, you could also pop it open-faced under the broiler for a few minutes so it gets brownish and crispy.

Have fun trying! Anne

Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce

Let’s get real.  Spaghetti for me is normally my “dinner needs to be ready in 15 minutes and I’ve got nothing” meal.  I boil a pot of water, throw in 1 lb of spaghetti, and when the spaghetti is cooked, I pour on the Prego.  Voila, dinner is served! If the family is lucky, I might have a loaf of French bread in the freezer I can pop in the oven.  I know I’m not the only mom out there who has dinners like this some days (and if you don’t, my hat is off to you!)
This Bolognese sauce (the fancy Italian way to say meat sauce) that I found on Framed Cooks is only about 10 more minutes of prep time and 100 times better. Here’s what I think about it.

AnneOpinion:
It is the best I’ve ever had, and I’m not exaggerating.  It’s lick the plate, or at least get all of the sauce up with your bread good.
You do have to make this in the morning so that it can simmer in the crockpot all day.
It makes enough for two meals.  Just put the half that’s left in a Ziploc freezer bag, put in the freezer and pull it out in a few weeks for that last minute meal.
I like to use half ground turkey and half Italian sausage.  I’ve used both sweet and spicy sausage and they are both great.  My favorite place to get sausage is at Sprout’s Farmers Market.  They make chicken sausage (much more guilt free) and you can buy a bulk pound of it, packaged just like your hamburger.  I like not having to mess with the links in recipes like this.
Another confession, I don’t use fresh garlic most of the time.  In a recipe like this one, I use garlic from the chopped garlic jar I keep in my fridge.  I really don’t notice a difference in most recipes.
Oh, and if you like the look of the breadsticks, stay tuned for Wednesday’s post on how to make them.

Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce                                                                         Printable Recipe

Adapted from Framed Cooks

1 lb ground turkey

1 lb sweet or spicy Italian sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
3 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
1 (12 oz) can tomato paste
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried marjoram
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1. Cook meat in large skillet until browned.  Drain grease.  Stir in all remaining ingredients in 5 quart slow cooker.  Transfer meat and mix well. Cover and cook on low (or 2 for those with a WestBend slow cooker) for 8 hours. Serve over your favorite pasta.

Have fun trying! Anne

Blush as Lipstick?

I am always on the lookout for things that make me feel more attractive, save time in my life, or in someway make my life easier.  A few weeks ago Cara Brooks, over at Maskcara, did this makeover where she said that she used her Jem liquid blush on Kayla’s lips.  When I read that I did a double take.  You see, I already had Jem (anyone else think “Truly Outrageous” every time that you read that? Sorry, if you where born after 1982 you probably won’t get that joke.) and I love it as a blush.  It blends in really well and looks like it’s part of the skin, and not sitting on top of it like powder blushes do.
Here’s what I thought of using it as a lipstick/lip gloss.
Anne Opinion:
It’s my new favorite thing to wear on my lips.  In my day to day life as a mom, you don’t want to look like your too made up or trying to hard.  Lipstick tends to do that.  Don’t get me wrong, I wear it when I’m going out with my husband or to church on Sundays, but when going to the local playgroup or taking my kid to soccer practice, it looks out of place.  I always hate how colorless my lips look though.  I was thrilled to discover this 2-fer in the blush that I’m already using.  As you can see, when applied, it looks like your lips have no makeup on them and they just naturally have amazing color.  So, if you’re like me and looking for a “natural look” for your lips, I highly recommend it.
Oh, and a couple of other things.
1. I think you could guess this already, but I’m in no way a professional photographer, and not the greatest at selfies, but I wanted you to see the difference the blush made.
2. I’m in no way compensated for this endorsement.  I just really love the product!
                                Before:

 After:

Here’s a link to Maskcara’s shop.

Have fun trying! Anne

Apple Fritters

Apple-Fritters-webWhen I was 10 I learned how to make “homemade doughnuts” and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.  I would take a can of refrigerator biscuits, cut a hole in the middle, fry them up and then dip them in a powdered sugar glaze or cinnamon sugar.  Sometimes (a lot of the times) I’d have the oil too hot and the outside would be dark and the inside would be doughy, but hey, I was making doughnuts! I thought they were great. I think I grew out of making them by about 12 because it was at that point the I realized they really didn’t taste like doughnuts, just fried refrigerator biscuits with some sugar on the outside.  Over the years I’ve tried doughnut recipes here and there and they have one thing in common, they are time consuming and create a big mess!  When I saw this apple fritters recipe on Pinterest from Seemingly Greek, I decided to give it a go because I liked the idea of making doughnuts that didn’t have to be rolled out and cut.  Here’s what I discovered.
AnneOpinion:
The recipe is simple and comes together really quickly.  I’d say it was 10-15 minutes from start to frying.
When you’re mixing everything together before you add the apples, it will be really thick.  Don’t let that scare you.  The apples will add a lot of moisture.
I like to grate the apples for this recipe.  It goes much quicker than cutting them into the size of a peanut, and all of them are a uniform size. (And yes, when it comes to baking I have OCD issues.  Please try not to judge me too much for it.)
I have made these with a regular size cookie scooper and a mini cookie scooper and I prefer the mini (the size of the one below). There is less chance of the fritter being doughy in the middle and we get twice as many.  Quantity counts around these parts. :0)
I like to make a Cinnamon Glaze for them, but I will be the first to admit that I think cinnamon makes most everything better.  If you’re not huge into cinnamon, just make the glaze without it.
One batch makes about 25 mini fritters.

 
Apple Fritters
Adapted from Seemingly Greek
Fritters:
1 1/4 C all purpose flour
1/3 C sugar
1 t baking powder
dash of salt
2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1 t vanilla
1 T butter, melted
1 egg
1/3 C milk
1 1/2 C apple, grated
Canola or peanut oil for frying
Glaze:
2 T butter, melted
1/4 cup half and half
1 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 t cinnamon
Peel and core apples and then grate them.  Set aside.  Combine all of the fritter ingredients except for the apples.  Gently stir in apples.  Heat oil in a pan deep enough for deep fat frying.  you want the oil to be around 365 degrees.  Test oil with a small amount of dough.   Drop fritters into the oil with the cookie scooper.  Don’t crowd them! Cook for about 30-40 seconds on one side or until light golden brown, then flip and cook for another 20 seconds or until golden brown. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels and repeat with the remaining batter.  Let the fritters cool for about 2 minutes before dipping them into the glaze.  Tap off excess glaze and place on a cooling rack to allow glaze to harden.  These are best eaten fresh.

Have fun trying!
Anne

Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry

Saturday was one of  those crazy busy days that you  look back on and wonder what the heck was going on to make it so busy!  So, at the end of the day I wanted to make a dinner that was quick and I felt like I had accomplished something: enter Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry from Mel’s Kitchen Café.  Mel is another one of my favorite bloggers.  I’ve liked all of the meals I’ve made from  her site and I like that she tests her recipes multiple times to make sure they’re right. That’s dedication!  Here’s what I thought of our dinner on Saturday night.

AnneOpinion:

Everyone liked dinner and with my family, that’s saying something!
I made a couple of changes right off the bat. First, the pineapple had to go. I cannot eat cooked pineapple.  The thought of it makes my stomach queasy.  But if you have a love for cooked pineapple, feel free to add it back in.
To make up for the pineapple being gone I added in a zucchini.  Zucchini and summer squash are always great additions to a stir fry.
I like my veggies cut julienne style in a stir fry.  It makes it so that all of the veggies (except the broccoli of course) are the same size and will then cook more evenly.  To learn how to cut veggies julienne, click here.
On her site Mel calls this a 30 minute meal.  That was not the case for me.  It took a good hour from start to finish.  If you don’t want to spend that much time I’d suggest buying two bags of frozen stir fry veggies from the grocery store.  Frozen Vegetables are always a great alternative to fresh because they are picked at the height of freshness and flash frozen.
This meal made a lot, which we had no problem devouring, but if you aren’t feeding a small army like me, be prepared for leftovers, or  half the recipe.  The teriyaki sauce is wonderful (I would definitely recommend using fresh ginger) and there was plenty of it!

Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry
Printable Recipe

Recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Café (with a few changes)
    • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 tablespoon oil,
    • 2 cups broccoli florets
    • 1 cup carrots, cut julienne
    • 1 red pepper, seeded and cut julienne
    • 1 zucchini, cut julienne with skin on
    • 1/4 cup of pineapple juice
Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger or 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Directions

  1. Thinly slice the chicken breasts and toss them in a medium bowl with the cornstarch and salt and pepper (about a teaspoon of each). Let the chicken sit for about 10-15 minutes while whisking the sauce and prepping vegetables.
  2. For the sauce, combine all the ingredients together in a bowl or liquid measuring cup and whisk until smooth.
  3. Heat the oil in a large, 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until rippling and hot. Addchicken to the skillet in a single layer without overlapping and let it cook until nicely browned, about 30-45 seconds. Flip the chicken and let it cook through on the other side, 1-2 minutes. If your chicken is sliced super thin, it won’t take long to cook through. Remove the chicken to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken. This will take 2-4 times to cook all of the chicken.
  4. Add another teaspoon or so of oil to the pan if needed and heat again until hot and rippling. Add all of the vegetables to the hot skillet and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are bright in color and barely tender. Add about 1/4 cup of the reserved pineapple juice to the skillet and cover (you can add water here instead of the juice, if desired). Cook, letting the vegetables steam for 2-3 minutes until crisp-tender (add more liquid, if needed, if it dries up).
  5. Add the chicken back to the skillet. Whisk the sauce to recombine and then stir the sauce into the skillet and simmer for 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened. Serve immediately over hot, cooked rice, or mix in 1 lb of cooked spaghetti noodles for a lo-mien style stir fry.

Have fun trying! Anne

Peaches and Cream Oatmeal

I love fall, or at least pretending it’s fall here in Arizona where we still have another few weekspeach-oatmealweb of 100 degree heat.  Part of that pretending is having peach, pumpkin and apple dishes.  Then at least my house smells and tastes like cooler temperatures. (Yankee Candle’s Harvest helps with this too)  I had some super ripe peaches that I needed to use last week, so I went to my Pinterest board to see what recipe I needed to try next and Peaches and Cream Oatmeal from 5dollardinners jumped out at me.  Something about the words “and cream” makes everything sound good, doesn’t it?

Here’s AnneOpinion:
This recipe came together super quick and easy and used ingredients that I had around my home already. (always a plus!)
I used old fashioned oats instead of the quick oats the recipe called for.  It turned out fine, and I think that I liked it better than I would have with quick oats because when you add the milk or cream, it stayed nice and solid and didn’t turn to mush.
Another advantage to using old fashioned oats is that you can make it up the night before and put it in the refrigerator ready to cook in the morning.  I love breakfasts that I can make the night before, especially when I have company!
When I looked at the recipe and the only spice listed was ginger (no cinnamon, what?!?!)  So, I didn’t follow that instruction and instead put in 1 teaspoon sweet spice blend, or use pumpkin pie spice.  It was perfect!
The recipe called for oil and for some reason the thought of putting oil in my oatmeal sounded icky to me, so I opted for butter instead. (Butter makes everything better!!)
The downside of this recipe was that it called for 1 teaspoon salt.  Don’t do it!! It was so salty, I could hardly choke down one square (and ended up throwing out quite a bit.)  I have a recipe for Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal that is similar to this and it calls for 1/2 t salt.  I think that that would be perfect and that’s the amount that I’ll use next time.
And, yes, there will be a next time.

Peaches and Cream Oatmeal

Adapted from 5DollarDinners
Preparation Time – 10 minutes
Cooking Time – 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 ripe peaches, diced and peeled

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a mixing bowl or stand mixer, whisk together all of the ingredients, except the peaches. Gently fold in the diced peaches and pour into the prepared baking dish.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until set in the middle.
  • Serve Peaches and Cream Baked Oatmeal with milk or cream.
  • *Prepare the night before, put it in the refrigerator, and the a quick wholesome breakfast in the morning!
Have fun trying!
Anne

A beginning & Chocolate Fudge Cookies and Cream Cake

A couple of months ago it was my son’s 6th birthday (that’s Boy 4) and we were going to a cabin for his birthday, which meant that he could not have his usual choice of Chocolate Chip Mint Ice Cream Cake.  Arizona + July= nothing frozen can be transported with out becoming a puddle.  I had seen this cake on Our Best Bites. Sarah and Kate are two of my favorite bloggers and I can generally trust that anything they put up I’m going to like, so I decided to give it a whirl.
As I made it, Sarah had great instructions, but I found, as I normally do, that there were some things that I learned that I wished someone would have told me.  This happens to me a lot as I try new recipes, crafts and various other things from the internet and I thought “I wish that I could share what I learned” and thus the idea of this blog was born.  I have been thinking and planning blog posts and trying to take pictures since then and let me tell you something up front.  These bloggers make things look a lot easier than they are.  The planning that goes into each of their pictures amazes me!  I’m just hoping that it gets easier, or maybe my mom and three friends that read this won’t judge me too much. :0)
So, here’s AnneOpinion:
Read the instructions on Our Best Bites before you start.  She gives some really helpful tips like to fold in the cookie pieces and not blend them in, which will turn the frosting kind of a gray color.
The chocolate cake is very dense, which is ideal for a cake that you are layering.  I didn’t feel like I needed to worry about it breaking apart as I stacked it.
As I did the stars on the top I was NOT HAPPY.  I used a very large star tip and it kept getting clogged with cookies and nothing would come out.  I made a huge mess cleaning it out, trying again, cleaning it out, mixing it up with a handmixer to make the cookie pieces smaller, having it clogged again.  So, my advice is to reserve some of the frosting for decorating before you mix in the cookies.  This will be a pretty contrast to the speckled frosting, and you will not have the frustrating mess that I had.
If you are wondering about the “puppy paws” they are just Junior Mints and Mini Chocolate Chips. 

Anyway, I hope you have an occasion when this cake would be perfect because I loved it and as very sad when it was gone.
Have Fun Trying!
Anne