Monday, January 31, 2011

Blogswap!

It's only Monday and this week is already feeling like Christmas. I'm in the midst of collecting items for soldier care packages to send to Afghanistan and homemade valentines for children in hospitals for the Hearts for Kids project. The packages are pouring in from my wonderful coworkers (95 of them to be exact) and what should come nestled in the packages but my highly anticipated blog swap prize from Nikki!


A group of fellow bloggers got together to have a blog swap and this was my first. I couldn't have been more excited...and I had two equally exuberant helpers as I opened the box. A sea of red tissue came spilling out with wonderful gifts inside.


The first was for my boys - a Valentine Book and a stuffed Monkey for each! They were ever so excited about this! You'll be pleased to know the book has already been read prior to naptime this afternoon and they are cuddled up with their monkeys fast asleep.

Next was a beautiful necklace bearing the names of both my boys and my husband. I am extremely sentimental and this gift touched my heart. I will wear this often Nikki - thank you!



I then opened a super chic desk calendar that I desperately needed. She has been reading my blog, as the next two had the musing foodie written ALL OVER them. A heartshaped bowl full of kisses. Sigh. Oh how I love chocolate. Then, a mix to bake red velvet whoopie pies - inspired from my pumpkin whoopie pie blogpost.Nikki, you nailed it! Thank you for the thought, creativity and effort you put into the perfect gift for a 'new' friend. I am indeed blessed.


Fellow blogswap friends, thank you for welcoming me into the group(riding on HPS' coat tails). And Please God, let Rose like my gift?

XO!
CC

Buffalo Chicken Squares

This weekend I was bound and determined to make my favorite minestrone recipe. As I began pulling the ingredients out, I discovered my bag of onions had turned into a science fair project that could cure the rarest of diseases. The moldy mess got pitched and I switched recipes. On the fly, I went digging into my freezer to see what conglomeration of ingredients I could put together to feed the fam and I hit the jackpot!

Chicken Squares are one of our favorite meals, and I decided to tweak perfection to try them Buffalo style. If you don't already have a best practice of cooking meat and freezing it, please allow me to twist your arm into trying it. I shaved about 30-40 minutes off my cooktime by having cooked shredded chicken in my freezer - just calling out my name! When I buy chicken in bulk, I know that many of my recipes call for shredded chicken, so I boil it up and freeze it in plastic containers to be added to a recipe in a flash and save me considerable time and effort. (Think Chicken Squares, Enchiladas, Chicken and Noodles...etc.) Try it. Thank me later.

Back to the Buffalo Squares...I have a recipe for Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip that I clipped from the newspaper and was planning on fixing as a fun Super Bowl dip. I realized it sounded amazing as a chicken square filling. If you like Buffalo Wings, these will give your tastbuds something to shout about. We loved them and my husband declared them a "Fixer Againer". SCORE!

What you need:
2 c. cooked, shredded chicken
1 8oz. package cream cheese
1/4-1/2 c. Frank's Red Hot Sauce (depending on your heat tolerance)
1/4 c. crumbled blue cheese
1/2 c. ranch dressing
1-2 large cans of crescent rolls

How you make this amazingness:
Combine the chicken, cream cheese, hot sauce, blue cheese and ranch dressing in a large bowl. Make sure cream cheese is well incorporated - (i.e. no big chunks - we want smooth!).



Unroll your crescent rolls, leaving two triangles together to form 1 rectangle/square. Mush the seams together and put a generous scoop of the chicken mixture inside. Pull the four corners of dough together at the top and push the seams together to avoid any chicken from oozing out.



Repeat this step until you've either gone through all your chicken mixture or run out of crescent roll dough.This should make 4-6 chicken squares. Bake on a cookie sheet for approximately 20 minutes at 350, until they are light brown.




I served this with a side salad and it was spectacular!

Have a delicious day and we'll chat soon!
CC

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You Can't Mess Up Friendship Bread - Trust me, I tried



I feel like the walls in Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. If you watched the movie, the walls turned from a vibrant red to a dreary sad gray when he left. I miss my husband! (Not that he in any way resembles Mr. Magorium, I just found it an adequate analogy). Each year my husband and his father go on a "Father/Son" hunting trip where they go shoot things somewhere in the world while I stay home and shop, faux paint the kitchen or refinish a piece of furniture I purchased. I am fully supportive of this trip and think that a strong Father/Son bond is so important. I just miss him. He's such a part of my life that I feel like my arm is missing when he's not around. Friday can't come soon enough.

The boys and I have been doing just fine - I've tried to do something special with them each day to help the week pass by a little more quickly. We bought more fish for my 4 year old's fish tank (we keep having casualties for some reason). So, four more fish and a snail named Sherman are our additional new pets (Um, make that 3 new fish, the $.38 goldfish didn't make it).

This week I've completely flaked out in the food area (What?! The musing foodie isn't gourmet all the time?!) Nope. I fixed a pot roast with veggies and we're eating it all week. That's how much I miss him. Can you tell? By the time Friday arrives, I'll never want to eat a pot roast again.

Now onto this crazy Amish Friendship Bread I've been talking about in prior posts. It seems to surface every couple of years and is all the rage, until people get sick of it and throw it away. If you're not familiar with the concept, there is a 'starter' that gets handed to you by someone you know (I don't take starter from strangers, it's weird). A gallon sized plastic bag of cream colored ooze is the starter and you have a 10 day process to make this sweet bread...it's got a cinnamon breakfast bread taste and is quite good! Smelling much like sourdough, each day you have a 'task' to do. Several days in a row you just squeeze the bag and let out any excess gas that may have built up in the bag. Easy enough - my kids love the squeezing part.



Mid way through the process you add milk, flour and sugar...then you go another few days of squeezing and finally you add the fun stuff - oil, flour, sugar, vanilla pudding, cinnamon...etc. It makes a LOT of batter/dough and from this you pull 4 cups out, putting them in 1 cup portions in 4 separate freezer bags and hand them out to friends who want to take on the 10 day challenge. You're left with several loaves of bread or muffins if you give all your starters away. If you keep one, you start the process over again and bake again in 10 days. Well, after a few weeks of this you do get a bit tired of it, you've run out of friends and hate to throw away good ingredients. This is where my epiphany hit.






I wanted to see if this could be messed up in anyway - I put the starter in the freezer for a year and a half (it still baked up fine). I went more than 3 days before adding in more ingredients (it still worked). I manipulated the time table every way possible and this is a fool-proof recipe. You can't mess it up.



So, we baked 2 loaves of bread and a dozen muffins last night and the loaves are being frozen for a homeless mission that needs baked goods and the muffins are being devoured for breakfasts. How perfect is this? Now, who needs starter? I've got bags of ooze sitting on my counter....

Monday, January 24, 2011

Unrepeatable Crepes.


I have exciting news - I have happened upon the best candybar to grace the earth since Reece's Peanut Butter Cups. My obsession with Godiva lead me there Saturday for my free truffle and blessing from above: IT WAS SAMPLE DAY! A perfectly polished silver tray was brought to me, displaying the latest Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Bar. I indulged, breathed a sigh of contented bliss and promptly bought one (well, if we're getting technical, my mother in law bought it for me as a 2:30pm surprise). Gotta love no-reason-at-all surprises! Love her. Love the chocolate. It was a good day. Imagine freeze dried strawberries - crazy with crunch, sprinkled through the decadence of milk chocolate (GODIVA chocolate nonetheless). You forget the calories and savor each bite, hiding it from your kids. It's amazing.

So, per my post this morning, I have to share the results from the Cheese Filled Crepes with Poblano Cream sauce. I alluded to attempting it last week after watching Mexican Made Easy on Foodnetwork. Let's completely reword the show - Mexican Made Easy is NOT accurate. It's more Mexican Made to Take ETERNITY. I had no idea that 67 steps later, I would finally pull this beast out of the oven. Humor me as I take you through a pictoral version of this experience. If you fall asleep in the middle, or begin to multi-task - imagine how I was feeling. Sigh.

First you make crepe batter in the blender.



Then you pour it in the pan and completely mess up the first one and it looks like this:





Round two gets better but then you realize you have 11 more to go. Oh boy.



In the meantime, you roast pobano peppers in the oven, not knowing what a poblano pepper tastes like, but fingers crossed for great things.



Crepes complete, you pull the poblanos out and peel off the outer casing and all the seeds.



Then you sautee onion, poblanos and whipping cream (no lofat version here).



That then goes into the blender (that you had to wash from the crepe batter). This makes your poblano cream sauce. The peppers are sweet - no heat at all. I was surprised! It makes a very very almost sickeningly rich sauce.



Back to the crepes...grate some monteray jack cheese after you find the cheese grater that mysteriously disappeared. Fill each crepe with cheese and then bake for 15ish minutes.



Serve the crepes by pouring the ridiculously rich sauce over them...it truly looks disgusting and I used a camera I wasn't used to, so it's a horrible shot no matter how you look at it.



You take a bite. Your husband takes a bite. You're both surprised that there is no heat to this mexican dish and it's heavier than heavy. As you pry yourself out of your chair with a crowbar after eating this dish...you wonder why you ate all of that heavy cheese and cream sauce. Three hours later, you still look at each other and groan, pop a few Tums and promise you'll never make it again.

Lord have mercy, I need to eat some chocolate just recounting that. I'm now off to finish making that crazy Amish Friendship Bread that has been at least 16 days in the making (should've only taken 10). I'm experimenting to see if you can mess up the process, as it's somewhat of an irritant if I forget to squeeze the plastic bag of fermenting oozie-ness on my counter. Tomorrow I'll shed light on that.

Have a delicious day - stay away from heavy crepe recipes and for Pete's sake - go get one of those strawberry bars!
CC

And the cookbook winner is....



Happy Monday! The conclusion of the cookbook giveaway yielded some great results - lots of fun entries and I got to learn about your favorite meals (I'm totally snagging a few!)

Random.org helped me choose the winning entry and so drumroll please....

Congratulations Mary! Her entry: My favorite is seasoned grilled shrimp. Of course with a salad and baked potato.

How delicious does that sound? Mary, email me at musingfoodie@gmail.com and send me your address. The cookbook will be mailed this week.

Thanks so much to all of you who participated! I will continue to give some fun things away throughout the year, so please stay tuned. Later on today I'll post about the longest recipe ever attempted that I will not be repeating - those crazy cheese stuffed crepes with poblano cream sauce!

Have a delicious day and we'll chat soon!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

a doughnut, a salad and a WRONG turn


I was in meetings all day - the only female in a sea of business suits and I held my own with the help of a Boston Cream Doughnut. Two dozen glorious doughnuts called out my name during a morning break and I settled on Boston Cream and savored every bite - longing to go back for the jelly filled as well, but knowing I should stop at just one, so I did.

Then there was lunch. It was a new restaurant to me: Mimi's Cafe and I settled on a grilled skirt steak salad with amazing deep fried blue cheese bites and a berry vinaigrette. I must try to replicate this deep fried wonder at home. The salad was delish, though the company awkward as I didn't know most of the suits around the table and we filled the time with idle chatter about nothing. The fun restaurant trademark? Muffins. I had a jumbo blueberry muffin (which only had blueberries in the muffin top) served with my salad and as I left, was presented with an assorted box of 4 more muffins to take home, as a thank you for trying out the restaurant. I do love a tasty parting gift. It's a best practice I feel should be adopted by everyone.

Back to work. After the last of my meetings, I shook hands, exchanged busines cards and attempted to find my way home. I am the world's worst at getting anywhere. Unfortunately I got so turned around that I made the wrong turn several times and ended up on the wrong side of town as the sun was setting. Uh-oh. It was a lock-your-doors moment and many prayers were sent up as I sat at a stop light and witnessed a driver get out of his car and begin to approach. I almost peed my pants, but I liked my suit too much. I called my husband to advise of my location in case I ended up as a Jane Doe on the 6 o'clock news. Thankful for a green light, I eventually got back on the right track and breathed a huge sigh of relief in pulling into the safe haven of my driveway.

So I'm now staring at 4 oversized muffins, thinking about burgers and sweet potato fries for dinner and about to go make those shortbread cookies filled with Andes mints. I have to bake out my stresses from that miserable wrong turn...but not before giving my son a bath from stuffing a 20 feet of paper down the toilet and then throwing it all over the bathroom.

Have a great evening!
CC

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A bunch of this, a little of that - oh, and a cookbook giveaway!



It's a cold dreary day, and I've chosen to combat that by eating chocolate covered dried strawberries. It seems to work, but it's amazing at how fast they disappear. I have to tell you how much I'm enjoying the list of favorite meals you're submitting for the Vintage Taste Cookbook Giveaway! Don't forget, you have all week to respond - just submit a comment below with your favorite meal and you'll be included in the drawing for all one hundred elegant-to-easy recipes with beautiful glossy pictures (my prerequisite to a good cookbook).



I just filled out a rebate for Andes Mints - I couldn't resist the impulse buy at Food Lion when a shortbread cookie recipe stuffed with Andes Mints caught my eye. I'll be fixing those this week. Who doesn't love shortbread or Andes Mints? Sounds like the perfect cookie match to me. Stay tuned on that!



In channel surfing the other night, the remote mysteriously landed on the Foodnetwork and I came across a must-fix recipe for Crepes stuffed with Cheese and covered in a Poblano Creme Sauce. I just had to wipe drool off my keyboard over that one. But you'll have to wait until tomorrow, as tonight is Mahi Taco night!

As if that wasn't enough, I'm in the midst of planning a baby shower (hello homemade party favors!) and contemplating life altering decisions like catering. Oooooooooooo! Excitement at every turn. And did I mention Valentine's day is less than a month away? I'm already planning every sweet bite.

Have a delicious day and we'll chat soon!
CC

Monday, January 17, 2011

My First Giveaway!



Happy Monday Friends!

I'm launching my first ever give-away today! It's just a little thank you for reading along and supporting my endeavors. I bought one of these cookbooks for myself because I LOVE Moravian Sugar Cookies and Moravian Sugar Cake and I figured a Moravian Cookbook would be just as delicious (FYI, I'm not Moravian, I just enjoy their food).

This hard cover cookbook contains recipes for snazzy dinners, desserts, appetizers and the book has my HUGE prerequisite: Full Page COLOR pictures of the food! It's a gorgeous cookbook and I love it. Each recipe incorporates Moravian Sugar Cookies into it somehow. Upon further inspection, I pondered alternatives if the delcicious crunchy, paper thin Moravian Cookies weren't readily available. Not to fear! Each recipe can either omit that ingredient or have an easy substitution for a cookie you can purchase at your local grocery store (just don't tell the Salem Baking company I let you in on this secret).

My mouth was watering as I looked through each page and I immediately went back and purchased another so I could give it away to one of you! So, do you want to win this to add to your cookbook collection? There are recipes that will surprise and delight - I really think you'll be pleased.

Here's how to enter: Just leave a comment below in the post indicating you'd like to win AND tell me your favorite meal. Simple, eh? I'll leave the polls open for the week and will reveal the recipient of the cookbook next Monday - January 24.

Thanks for reading y'all! Now hurry and enter so you can have a chance to win!
CC

Friday, January 14, 2011

Chicken Parmesan


Three glorious chicken breasts were just begging to be cooked, and who am I to turn them down? The fam was due for Chicken Parmesan and last night was the night. This recipe is far easier than it looks and always gets delicious reviews. I simply must share its simplicity for you to replicate.

Ingredients:
3 chicken breasts, pounded flat
1 c. store bought seasoned breadcrumbs
1 c. homemade breadcrumbs
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 jar of pasta sauce
1/2 box angel hair pasta
1 stick of butter
several tablespoons of olive oil

First, confession: I'm in love with my meat mallet. I asked for a meat mallet for Christmas many years ago and a girlfriend got it for me as a joke. Little did she realize how much I would go on to use this beauty. It's the perfect stress reliever after a long day. I put each chicken breast in a large ziploc bag and began pounding to my hearts content. It was wonderful! After I had 3 flat chicken boobs, the magic begins. (Note: I would've taken more pictures than the final version, but the kids were chasing the dog to torture with a Fisher Price Dump Truck, so something had to give!)

Store bought breadcrumbs are such a let down to me. The texture is more like sand than crumbs, yet the seasoned version saves you the time and effort of making them completely from scratch. So I beefed up the store bought crumbs with a cup of my own fresh made crumbs that I had frozen awhile back and 1/2 a cup of parmesan cheese for a delicious breading.

Now I have chicken and breading...but how do I make it into Chicken Parmesan? Easy! Take two bowls - melt a stick of butter in one bowl and place your breading in another. Have a skillet heated and ready on the stove with several tablespoons of olive oil. From here, it's basically an assembly line. One chicken breast gets dipped into the butter on both sides, then makes a giant leap into the breading for a nice coating and then sizzles and sears for several minutes on each side in the skillet until the outside is cooked to golden brown and the inside is raw. What?!

I then transfer the chicken to a pyrex dish and pop it into the oven to finish baking for about 20 minutes at 350. While this is happening, I cook angel hair pasta and open a jar (shhh! store bought!) of my favorite pasta sauce and heat it in a sauce pan. Oh the multi-taskers delight! So much going on, yet SO easy.

Next, your husband walks in the door..."What is this amazing smell?!" he asks. You then give him a demure smile and let him know that it's Chicken Parmesan and you both do a happy dance (ok, not really, but my tastebuds certainly do!).

As he is hugging the kids after a long day at the office, you are plating a delicious serving of angel hair pasta, topped with the sauce and then a chicken breast and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. (If you want bread, feel free to add to your meal, but I'm on carb overload from my Artisan Bread experience earlier this week and my waistline and hips needed a reprieve).

The crowd goes wild and you breath a contented sigh for a delicious meal that took you 25 minutes to prepare from start to finish (beating Rachel Ray by 5) that would've otherwise cost you $15 at a restaurant per serving and is instead, about $3 (Beating Melissa D'Arabian by $1-2).

That's Amore!
CC

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Artisan Bread - OH MY WORD.


Let's all just stop and have a moment of silence for the 5 pounds you will gain from just reading this post. I have come across a new bread phenomenon from my friend Aundrea, who has an uncanny way of making everything she touches ultra cool and fabulous. She introduced me to Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and I'm hooked.

In a nutshell, you make a massive batch of dough that can live in your refrigerator for two weeks. Whenever you get a hankering for fresh baked bread, grab a blob of it from the massive dough ball and plop it on a baking sheet or stone and then into the oven. In 30 minutes you have a house that smells like a bakery and a magical loaf of love that you can't stop eating. It's DELICIOUS and I baked my first batch last night. The great thing is, I used a few simple ingredients and a big bowl and wooden spoon. No fancy schmancy techniques are "kneaded" as no kneading is required! I should relabel this 'Bread Baking for Dummies' as it's incredibly easy.

Here's a picture of my ingredients:



I combine them all together and stir, and while I'm stirring, I envision myself owning the hipest bakery in town because I'm convinced this is going to revolutionize bread baking as I know it. As I'm designing the interior of my bakery and perhaps a stand at the Farmer's Market, I look down and realize I'm done. The ingredients have been stirred and I formed them into a ball. That's all there is to it!



I put this bowl, covered, (with a slight opening to allow the gases to breath) in a draft free place (away from small children) and for me, this happy place is my oven that is NOT turned on. For 2-5 glorious hours of draft free silence, this dough glob rises. When you uncover your container, it will have expanded quite a bit and will now resemble this:



Now, this is the point where you're supposed to put it in your refrigerator overnight (or the next two weeks) and then pull it out in globs to bake your individual loaves, but I couldn't wait that long, so I baked a 1 pound loaf last night. In order to get the famous crusty exterior and soft interior of true Artisan Bread, a pan of water was placed in the oven while baking. It does something special...so make sure you take this important step.



After 30 minutes, this brilliance emerges and your mouth is watering as you wait for it to cool. After slicing into it and slathering loads of butter on each piece, I served this with dinner. It was a HUGE hit and I am now 5 pounds heavier. I can't stop eating it. Today, I'm going to experiment making rolls with it for sandwiches.



Have a delicious day!
CC

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Crockpot...Pizza?

As I am iced and snowed in my house (literally), thoughts of my beloved crockpot made me share a recipe that went from no to yes in one conglomeration of ingredients. I am all about fix-it-and-forget-it meals that leave me more time for doing important things like sledding with my boys.

My husband came across a recipe for something called Crockpot Pizza awhile ago and it sounded GREAT until I read the ingredient list. It's pasta recipe with pizza topping ingredients and Cream Of Mushroom Soup? My nose squinched and I said, Uh NO. I would never put that soup on my pizza, so I'm not fixing this recipe. I walked away from it for about a month, and then thought whatever, I'll give it a try and feed it to the garbage disposal if it's inedible.

The great thing is, I was able to multi task and make this while making dinner one night - putting this recipe together in no time flat and popping it in the frig to serve the next day (on low for 4 hours). It was the perfect time saver!

Here's what you need and how to layer this recipe. It's super easy, and if your nose squinches when you read it too, give it a try anyway. The soup somehow magically transforms into a creamy cheese sauce and it's wonderful.

Ingredients:
1.5 pounds hamburger meat, browned & drained (cook completely)
16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (provologne works too)
1 chopped onion (these will cook in the process)
1 package of pepperoni
2/3 box of rigatoni, noodles - cooked (penne and corkscrew work too)
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I know - just trust me)
1 small can of sliced mushrooms (omit if you're not a mushroom fan, but do include the soup)
2 jars of pizza sauce (or one jumbo jar of pasta sauce is fine too, just don't skimp - you want plenty of sauce)

Layer all ingredients in a buttered crockpot in the following order:

hamburger
noodles
cheese
soup
mushrooms
pizza / pasta sauce
pepperoni
permesan cheese - for garnish

Heat this for 4 hours on low in your beloved crockpot. At the end of four hours, it'll look a little something like this:



And then you scoop it out into bowls and it looks like this (I know, it's not that pretty but sprinkle some parmesan cheese on it if you'd like - it tends to cover a multitude of sins). The layers all blend together and it's a creamy pasta dish with a zing of a pepperoni pizza.



I sprinkle parmesan cheese over it and serve it with a lettuce salad and some garlic bread and tend to get rave reviews...you'd never even know there was a crazy layer of cream of mushroom soup in there.

I'm now off to squeeze the weird bag of Amish Friendship Bread some one gave me (I'll tell you more about it in 10 days)...and am attempting a kneadless Artisan bread as well.

Stay warm out there!
CC

Monday, January 10, 2011

BJs closes and there's a run on toilet paper!


I continue to be amazed at the lack of restraint a consumer exhibits when a feeling of urgency is evoked. (Myself being one of them). Case in point, BJs, a regional bulk food distributor (Similar to Sam's Club for you out of towners) is closing a store in my town. Word on the street was that 50" flatscreens were walking out the door for around $300 and you could land 3 pounds of sugar for a dollar. Well, paint me green and call my Gumby - I fell for it and convinced my husband to check it out with me.

With children in tow and not a shopping cart to be found, we forged into the abyss of 'perceived' savings and saw lines - LONG lines at every cash register with carts over flowing. I thought we'd found the Promised Land in the form of a closeout at BJs. Not quite.

We took the store aisle by aisle...the flat screens had long since walked out the door and there wasn't a grain of sugar to be found for a dollar. Apparently a select number of items were discounted to lure in the customers...along with lifting the membership fee (we aren't members, just innocent bystanders in search of a deal). I was admittedly disappointed. I had hoped to find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and was faced with all face value full price products - many of which were tossed and turned in crazy disarray. Not to mention being slightly unnerved by the amount of security patrolling the store. You don't exactly want to put the jumbo case of diapers in your cart with an armed guard eyeing you warily.

I found some deals that were cheaper than the grocery stores (even calculating in coupon savings). So we walked away with butter, a case of diapers (I ignored the guard), some cream cheese dips, granola bars and protein powder (that would be my husband's find that made him ever so happy). It was a fun adventure, but man I wanted sugar for a buck. (please note the happy 18 month old that found the protein and thought it was his own personal sandbox below).



My second case in point is a winter storm we're currently experiencing in the Carolinas. Inches and inches of beautiful fluffy white snow have been falling since before dawn and it's completely shut down most of the town. No school, no nothing! I know the folks up north have to be laughing at us...a few inches and we waive the white flag in surrender, strip the grocery store shelves and hibernate like bears. The question I ask, is why do milk and bread have to be the staples of winter storm choice? Is there something magical I am missing out on?

I felt the urgency of the impending blizzard yesterday after church. Knowing that I had a mere two days left of super double coupons at the grocery store, I needed to capitalize on the conditions before I was forced to stay in my house to drink milk and eat bread. I gathered my final fistful of coupons and fled to the store...only to find it a mad house of fury with people throwing items in their carts like the world was coming to an end. Of all the things to grab...toilet paper and pancake syrup shelves were stripped bare...so apparently the milk/bread list just got lengthened.



I refused to get tangled in the web of traditionalism and bucked the system with the purchase of chicken (buy 1 get TWO free), Totinos pizzas and chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs. We will survive this snow storm in style - all 4 inches of it.

I'll bid you adieu as I go clean up about 2 pounds of vanilla flavored protein. Enjoy sledding and consider yourself just taken out by a virtual snow ball. :)

Ciao!
CC

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Any Excuse Will Do!


I host a few parties throughout the year and one involves a canned food drive. I started this two years ago for several reasons, the first being that I am a control freak in the kitchen. I also recognize guests breath a sigh of relief when they don't have to come bearing a casserole or store bought cake. So in my invite, I ask them to bring canned food items for our church's foodbank. It serves hungry families and might be one of the coolest ways to get out of bringing a casserole EVER! My guest love it and it's a no pressure project.

You can bring one can or a case...and they all just find a corner of the kitchen or around the Christmas tree and drop off the food with no further ado. I collected all of this past year's items and snapped a photo to help encourage you to perhaps adopt a similar project. People aren't just hungry in December when a bulk of food drives take place. You can conduct your own food drive at any function throughout the year!

Thanks to all of my guests (you know who you are) who contributed to this drive - we helped feed some needy families and that is better than the tastiest of casseroles.

Any excuse will do!
CC

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Is it a Pie or a Giant Cookie?


I received several new cookbooks as gifts over Christmas and the one I was drawn to first was 'Best Loved Hershey's Sweet and Sensational Cakes, Pies, Brownies, Holiday Treats and more!' - why on earth I would be so drawn, I can't fathom it either. Perhaps it was the mouth watering picture of chocolate mocha cheesecake on the cover. I'm not sure, but I started drooling the second I unwrapped this gift.

Flipping through the book, I decided to make something tasty for New Year's Eve. I often times I put so much effort into the appetizers and main meal, that dessert is left to fend for itself - but this recipe changed all that! I adapted the Reece's Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie on page 48 and we all swooned over it. Swoon, Ha!

So here is what you need, and how to put it all together so you can swoon too:

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 cups Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, coarsley chopped
1 c. chopped pecans
3/4 c. chocolate chips - divided
1 unbaked 9 inch pie crust
Vanilla Ice Cream

Directions:
Beat butter in a bowl and incorporate the eggs and vanilla. Combine flour and sugar and add that to your butter mixture. Stir in the chopped peanut butter cups and pecans.



Now, put your pie crust in a 9 inch pie plate and sprinkle half of your chocolate chips (eating a few for good measure). Pour the batter mixture on top of this and smooth it out with a spatula, sprinkling the remaining chocolate chips on top (eating a few more if you need to).



Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until golden brown. Let it cool for about an hour (if you can stand waiting that long). Serve this warm with vanilla ice cream. It's fabulous!

Have a delicious day!
CC

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

My beautiful Christmas tree is now camping out curbside and the decorations have been boxed away for the year. I'm still clinging to my Christmas dishes as I can't quite bid everything adieu just yet. I had a delicious holiday - wonderful time spent with family and amazing food at every turn.

I took time to breathe and enjoy Christmas through the eyes of an 18 month old and a 4 year old. One of my favorite moments came the morning after Christmas when my four year old came running into our room at the crack of dawn yelling "YOU ARE NOT GONNA BELIEVE THIS! IT SNOWED OUTSIDE!!!" He immediately began donning sledding attire over his jammies and could barely contain his excitement. I captured memories on film and video and etched them into my memory for good measure. There's nothing like a baby in red gingerbread man pajamas, laughing while opening presents.

I've been blessed with life and health and a loving family. I have a good job, a wonderful church, amazing friends. I lack nothing - there is a roof over my head, clothes in my closet, food in my refrigerator and a husband who loves me despite my many shortcomings. Best of all, I have Jesus in my heart. I couldn't ask for more.

Over my Christmas vacation, while enroute to Chuck E. Cheese's, I told my husband of my New Year's Resolutions. I have 3.

1. To read my Bible more. You can never spend enough time reading or praying!
2. To actually use my Zumba DVDs that have until this point, merely collected dust.
3. To take The Musing Foodie blog to the next level.

I started this blog on a whim in 2010 and it's grown more than I imagined. Never did I think more than my parents and co-worker Larry woud read this! I cannot thank you enough for reading my posts, trying my recipes and encouraging me along the way. It's been so much fun and I look forward to more delicious excitment in the year to come! The thrill of an empty pyrex dish - just waiting to be filled!

I have a few things up my sleeve that will unfold in the months to come, so stay tuned and be sure to lend me your feedback. I have a plethora of new recipes to share (sans the homemade rolls that turned into rocks last week), giveaways to give and a few other fun adventures just waiting in the wings. I can't wait to cook it all up and serve it in true Musing Foodie style.

Cheers to a tasty 2011!
CC