My Favorite Brownies

October 31, 2010 · Posted in Desserts · View Comments 

Happy Halloween! Snickers offer a yummy way to use up leftover Halloween candy!

My Favorite Brownies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened Hershey’s natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8- inch pan. Set aside.

In a saucepan, melt butter. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat in remaining ingredients. Spread the batter into prepared pan.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes. Remember oven temperatures do vary. Do not overcook.

Remove brownies and let cool on a wire rack 10 minutes before spreading frosting. Spread frosting on brownies while they are still slightly warm.

 To make frosting: Combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla and confectioners’ sugar. Stir until ingredients are combined. Spread evenly over top of warm brownies.  Sprinkle with chopped Snickers candy. (Milky Way, Butterfingers or Reeses’ Peanut Butter Cups work well too.)

The Secret Recipe For A Busy Mom’s Youthful Vitality

October 28, 2010 · Posted in Improving Family Life · View Comments 

My day begins very early in the morning. I have never been one who slept in and have always been that way since I was a little girl. I start my morning with a cup of coffee, and sit down in front of the computer to write recipes, my weekly newsletter, blog posts, answer e-mails and catch up reading about what’s going on with everyone and the world.

An hour later, I’m up preparing school lunches or finishing them from the night before and tackling with my husband getting kids ready for school and myself ready for work. I then spend 8 hours a day at the office, come home to fix dinner, get the kids ready for bed, and finish up any blog posts. Needless to say, usually by 3pm like clock work, I feel tired and ready to end my day. I would have all this energy in the morning and by 3pm I was ready to call it a day. Not a good feeling in my opinion.

In the medical office I work in, our patients complain of two primary concerns-The first is concern about reduced cognitive or mental functioning. Sometimes this manifests as difficulty remembering names or just not having the same degree of sharp mental functioning that was there in their more youthful days; The second is described as a lack of energy to do the things that you want to do and people presume it is attributable to “just getting older”. Patients described it as “more a lack of sustained vitality than “fatigue”.

The Secret Recipe For A Busy Mom’s Youthful Vitality 

I’m not one for taking medications, over the counter or prescribed and I’ve never really taken supplements before other than my pre-natal vitamins.  But when I heard about ageLOC Vitality from Dr. Loesch, and close friends and the postive results they were having, I thought I would give it a try. I haven’t experiened feeling anything like this in a very long time. I’ve been on ageLOC Vitality for almost a month now and after 4 days of being on it I started feeling:

  1. Increased energy all day long, which is important when you’re a busy mom who’s day starts at 5am, works full-time outside of the home and has a personal business inside the home with children.  (I’ve cut way back on the coffee in the morning and no longer feel I really need the energy drinks.)
  2. Improved mental focus and concentration, getting a lot more done in less time than I used to.
  3. The best sleep I’ve had in a long time; I wake up feeling rested and ready to begin a new day.
  4. Improved stamina during my weekday walks and a faster recovery feeling rejuvinated while increasing my miles. (I started walking 2-3 miles, now I can walk 5 miles and feel great!)

I’ve continued to feel this way all month long and it feels great! Believe me when I say, I don’t leave home without my ageLOC Vitality!

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

October 27, 2010 · Posted in Desserts · View Comments 

The perfect fall cheesecake! I can’t believe I wait this long every year to make one of my family’s favorite desserts. This elegant simple dessert is made every year in our home and the crust is even homemade.

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

Graham Cracker Crust:

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups graham crackers, crushed using food processor

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small batter bowl, combine ingredients well. Press graham cracker mixture into an ungreased 9-inch pie plate or spring form pain. (Crust will go up the sides a little.)

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until crust is lightly brown. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Fill with pumpkin cheesecake filling as directed below.

Filling:

Ingredients:

2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

3/4 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice

1 pinch ground cloves

Dash of nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat until creamy and smooth. Add eggs, one at a time and blend well. Reserve 1 cup of filling, spread evenly over graham cracker crust, set aside.

To remainder filling, add pumpkin puree and spices and stir until well blended. Spread carefully and evenly over the top of filling already on crust.

Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes or until filling is almost set.  Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Chill in refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight. Serve with whipped topping and a sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon. 

Recipe Note: To make this dessert even more delicious, try drizzling caramel sauce over the whipped topping. Yum!

Alternate toppings: Omit the pumpkin puree for a regular cheesecake filling and top with  Raspberry, Blueberry or Strawberry Sauce; Chopped Oreo Cookies; Pecans or Pralines with Caramel Sauce; Chocolate Sauce

Easy Baking Tip:Nothing Ever Burns

October 25, 2010 · Posted in Kitchen Tips · View Comments 

A stone heats to the exact temperature of your oven, stays there and holds the temperature evenly.  It also doesn’t reflect your ovens hot spots.  These qualities make your foods far less likely to burn.

I just love my Pampered Chef Stoneware. My Large Bar Pan gets used pretty much for just about everything from making bacon in the morning for breakfast, to grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch and moist and delicious chicken breasts for dinner. The best part is those gooey, yet crisp edge chocolate chip cookies for dessert! For making smaller batches, I use my small or medium bar pan.

 

Pampered Chef™ Stoneware is made from natural stoneware clay. When fired at over 2000ºF temperatures, this clay produces a buff-colored stoneware that is unaffected by moisture and completely safe for use with food. After firing, each piece is hand finished, producing a one-of-a-kind creation. This is why no tow pieces of stoneware look or feel exactly alike.

Because it heats evenly and then retains that heat, stoneware produces exceptionally crisp crusts and moist interiors, promotes even baking and browning, and roasts foods to perfection.

 

A Busy Mom’s Way To Coupon-Clip

October 22, 2010 · Posted in Noel's Kitchen Smarts · View Comments 

If you do the grocery shopping for your family like I do, saving money is probably one of your biggest goals. But busy moms know that saving time is even more important. So today, I’m going to share with busy moms like you and I a new solution to saving time, putting cash in your pocket and time in your schedule.

The average person who clips coupons saves approximately $5.29-$9.60 per week and spends 3-7 hours each week coupon clipping to achieve those savings. What busy mom has time for that? I certainly don’t!

A Busy Mom’s Way To Coupon-Clip

 Shoppingnanning.com is the busy mom’s way to coupon-clip: It’s so easy and simple. Just input your regular buys, create your shopping list and go-to grocery store or super stores like Kmart, Walmart, or Target to shop, and for just $5.95-a-month you will get a “loyalty card” loaded with targeted coupons that not only give you the savings from the grocery store coupons, but savings from other sources as well. This website searches for coupons at all different levels to offer busy moms the best savings and loads the savings right on your card. At checkout, simply hand the card to your grocery store checker and your done!  They even offer everyone a 2-week trial period.

Click HERE to start your FREE trial and saving time and money!

Greek Chicken and Potatoes

October 10, 2010 · Posted in Chicken · View Comments 

Add a bit of Mediterranean flair to your chicken and potatoes. You would never know that this delicious meal came from a slow cooker. It tastes like you spent the better part of the day roasting it.

Greek Chicken and Potatoes

Ingredients:

3 cups red potatoes, washed and patted dry

4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 onion, chopped

1 cup chicken broth

1 Tablespoon OlivExtra Plus (Canola Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

2 garlic cloves pressed

1 Tablespoon Greek Rub (Oregano, Lemon, Garlic and Mint)

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Quarter potatoes and place them with the chopped onion in the bottom of slow cooker. Layer chicken breasts over the top.

In a small bowl whisk broth, oil, seasoning, garlic and lemon juice. Pour over chicken, onion and potatoes. Place lid on slow cooker. Cook 6-8 hours on low setting. Serve with a green salad. 

Mom’s Favorite Chili In A Bread Bowl

October 8, 2010 · Posted in Beef · View Comments 

A slightly sweet band savory chili recipe full of flavors with a bit of a kick. This is one of our favorite chili recipes!

Chili In A Bread Bowl

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground beef

1 cup diced onions

1/2 cup green bell pepper

1/2 cup red bell pepper

1 clove garlic, pressed

1 cup tomatoes, diced

1 bag of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 cup tomato sauce

1 large can of kidney beans (26-28 ounces), rinsed and drained

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon paprika

1/4 cup brown sugar

Directions:

In a skillet, brown ground beef, onion, garlic and bell peppers until beef is no longer pink. Drain excess fat. Add beef mixture to slow cooker.

Add remaining ingredients to slow cooker and stir until all ingredients are combined. Place lid on slow cooker and set on low setting. Cook 6-8 hours. 

Serve in homemade bread bowls. (With the kids, I serve the bread bowls in a regular bowl as it is easier for them to handle while eating.)

Serve with toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, diced avacado, diced tomatoes, salsa or cilantro.

Recipe Note: Another good addition to this recipe would be adding one cup fresh corn. Chili can also be served with chips, on a hot dog in a bun for that famous chili dog.

Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Pinto Beans

October 5, 2010 · Posted in Main Dishes · View Comments 

Pinto Beans are a budget-friendly staple in our house and I make them quite often during the month as a quick and easy weeknight meal.  I can always find dried Pinto Beans on sale at the grocery store and there are several different ways I like to cook them. Here’s one of my recipes on how to make these delicious beans!

Slow Cooker Pinto Beans

Ingredients:

1 16 ounce package dried Pinto Beans

Water

1 /2 teaspoon Creole Rub (optional)

Salt

Directions:

In a colander, wash and rinse pinto beans. Place beans in a 8 quart stockpot. Fill stockpot with 3/4 cold water, cover and let soak overnight. 

Next day, drain beans and rinse with cold water. Place beans in slow cooker. Add 6-8 cups hot water to slow cooker or enough to make it 3/4 full. (The amount of water will also depend on how big your slow cooker is.) Add Creole Rub and salt. Stir until combined. (Add the salt to your liking and always taste as you go.)  Cook on low setting for 6-8 hours.

Recipe Note: Serve cooked pinto beans with your favorite shredded cheese, cilantro, salsa, sour cream, avacado, rice or corn cakes.

One of our favorite ways to eat these beans, is to serve them in a taco salad. Add cooked beans in the bottom of the taco shell, add shredded lettuce and top with a few of the above toppings.

These are so easy to make and again very budget-friendly! Leftovers can be placed in ziploc bags or air tight containers and placed in the freezer. When ready to use, thaw in refrigerator and toss in the microwave to re-heat.

 

Enjoy!

Mini Eggsters:A Fun Breakfast For Kids!

October 5, 2010 · Posted in Breakfast · View Comments 

Over the weekend, I saw one of those cooking infomercials on a cooking device that can make meals in a matter of 5-7 minutes for just 3 easy payments of $19.95. One of them was a fun breakfast dish for kids, Eggsters….I saw this and just shook my head. Why buy a cooking device that will cost more than the items used to make the dishes? I can make those in my Pampered Chef Deluxe Mini-Muffin Pan for  a lot less and  it makes 24 cute little Eggsters. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to make delicious meals for your family. 

Mini Eggsters

Ingredients:

24 Tator Tots

8 eggs

Salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a single tator tot into each mini muffin cup.

In a small mixing bowl or batter bowl, whisk eggs together with salt and pepper. Pour over tator tots.

Bake for 5-7 minutes or until eggs are cooked. Oven temperatures do vary.

Recipe Note: Can add diced bell pepper, onion, cheese or ham.

Your kids will definitely enjoy!

A Busy Mom’s Favorite Quick and Easy Waffle Recipe

October 3, 2010 · Posted in Breakfast · View Comments 

Having a family breakfast is a great way for families to unwind after a long busy week. Starting the day off with waffles made from a slightly sweet and creamy batter topped with fresh blueberries, honey or maple syrup just doesn’t get any better.

This is one of my favorite, quick and easy recipes for making waffles. * To make this recipe even healthier, try substituting whole wheat flour in place of  regular flour. I’ve  tested the recipe a few times and 1/3 cup batter works perfect and does not run over the waffle maker.  They come out light and delicious!

Favorite Waffle Recipe

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cup flour*

2Tablespoons sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

2 eggs

1 3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon honey

Non-stick cooking spray for waffle maker

Toppings: Powdered Sugar, Fresh Blueberries, Whipping Cream, Maple Syrup, Your Favorite Jams or Chopped Nuts

Directions:

Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat wet ingredients. Add to dry ingredients. Whisk until batter is moist and combined. Batter will be slightly lumpy.

Lightly spray waffle maker with baking spray. Pour 1/3 cup batter onto each side of pre-heated waffle maker. Cook until waffles are lightly brown. If your like me, and multi-task in the kitchen, set a timer so you don’t forget to take the waffles off in time! Serve with your favorite toppings. (see above)

Recipe Note: Tips For Freezing Waffles~Cook waffles until they are lightly browned. Let cool and store in an air-tight container or freezer zip-loc bag. When you are ready to use them, pop in toaster or oven to warm. My recommondation would be to not re-heat them in the microwave. They tend to come out chewy.

 

 Enjoy!

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