Category Archives: Food & Recipes

5 Easy Ways to Put Peppermint in Your Holiday

There are so many things to look forward to when the holiday season rolls around. Decorated trees, twinkling lights, snow. Hot cocoa, warm-hearted movies, family.

And peppermint.

In general, my life motto throughout the year is

eat-all-the-peppermint-patties-thumb

but when it comes to Christmas, peppermint takes on a whole new meaning. And I try to shove it, stir it or bake it into everything.

That being said, let’s get right to the 5 easy ways to put peppermint in your holiday!

Peppermint Brownies with Buttercream Icing

peppermint-brownies-1

These peppermint brownies by i heart nap time can whipped up in a shake. Probably eaten in a shake too – but it’s Christmas, calories don’t count. So get whipping!

White Chocolate Peppermint Dipped Oreos

peppermint oreos

Peppermint. Oreos. Chocolate. A perfect trifecta? Absolutely. Pink Cake Plate put together these super simple treats that would be great for a holiday gathering or friendly gifts for neighbors. Want to make your own? Pink Cake Plate says you will need:

Peppermint Oreos

White Candy Melts

Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking chips

\Melt the candy, dip the oreos, shake off excess candy, sprinkle with peppermint baking chips. Let harden.  EAT!!!

Peppermint Marshmallow Stirrers

peppermint marshmallows 2

What is hot cocoa without marshmallows? Especially peppermint marshmallows! Bargain Blessings puts together a version that is not only easy to assemble but also perfect for stirring a cup of hot chocolate. All you need are marshmallows, peppermint sticks, white chocolate and red sprinkles.

Melt the white chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave just until melted. Stir until smooth. Dip the end of each peppermint stick into the chocolate to act as a “glue” and put a marshmallow on the end of each stick over the chocolate end. Dip the marshmallow halfway into the chocolate and then put a small bit of sprinkles evenly over the chocolate. Let cool and store in an airtight container.

Peppermint Snickerdoodles

Peppermint-Snickerdoodles-recipe

Yeah, yeah. So quick peppermint desserts might be slightly dangerous for our waistlines. To that, I say: Eh, who cares? Especially when you see how easily you can throw together these peppermint snickerdoodles from Pillsbury.

Peppermint White Trash Candy

peppermint white trash

Not exactly sure how I feel about the name, but certainly sure how I feel about eating it. All of it. In my stomach. NOW. This peppermint white trash candy by The Domestic Rebel may just be a new yearly tradition for me. One I may or may not share with others. YUM-O.

I hope that everyone has a very peppermint-y holiday season – and okay, I guess you should probably share some of this goodness with others too. Just be sure to keep plenty of these 5 easy peppermint treats in stock for yourself as well for those long cold winter days!

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Flatter Meat Means More Space! Wait… WHAT?

Photo courtesy of lunchinabox.net

Photo courtesy of lunchinabox.net

Okay, so this isn’t going to be mind-blowing. But for those of you who are like me and purchase large quantities of meat to freeze when it’s on sale, this little tidbit might help you out.

Confession: I have been a 30 Day Shopper for quite some time now. What is that? Well, it means I go grocery shopping in 3 different stores for 30 days worth of meals all in ONE day.

That’s just the shopping part. I then have to haul it all inside of the house and put it away. I’m honestly not sure which part I hate most.

Yes I do, all of it.

I’m just not a shopper – but I know a good deal when I see one. And I usually freeze it.

When it comes to buying meat, I’m no fool. I know that the savings is in buying it at a decent sale price in the massive “big-buy” type packaging and breaking it up myself at home.

Over time, though, and with very limited freezer space, I came to hate this method. I was literally shoving ziploc bags of meat into my freezer with a ram bar. Or my shoulder, whatever.

Regardless, my freezer looked like it was on crack and about to vomit out a bag of ground beef at any moment. Ever have a bag of rock hard chicken thighs fall on your toe? Exactly.

And then, AHA! I had my usual “duh” moment. Treat the freezer like a puzzle. Just like my OCD loving husband does when we’re packing a month’s worth of crap into the van for a weekend getaway.

Flatten the meat!

No, no, easy girl. Don’t actually pound it to death. Just lay it flat when piling it into your freezer bags. Or if it’s something you can easily pat down like ground beef, turkey or chicken, flatten it so that it looks like a square or rectangle.

No bulging clumpy bags of meat in my fridge ever again.

flatten meat hands

The best part is that once the meat freezes, you can then put the bags in bins in your freezer upright and fit all sorts of things in there! FYI: bins are great for flat meat, otherwise some of them slip through the shelf cracks. That’s a whole other set of problems…

So, again, not mind-blowing or life-altering stuff here folks. But if you’re a Mega Meat Freezer like myself, you will appreciate this little tip.

Happy Meat Flattening!

Leftover Halloween Candy Brownies

brownies with candy

Photo courtesy of Allrecipes.com

Yes, I realize it’s only a few days after Halloween… but I’m already sick to death of fighting about candy.

I can no longer fight with myself OR the kids and their incessant requests for “One more piece”. Let’s not even mention finding hidden empty wrappers in their rooms (or mine?).

Perhaps I’m jumping the gun a tad, but when it comes to Halloween candy: I’m OVER it.

I just can’t bring myself to throw it away though… after all, it is chocolate.

If you’re in the same boat, don’t fret. There’s hope yet. You can make Leftover Halloween Candy Brownies!

A pan of these chocolate fudgy treats will bring anyone to their knees! Want to know how to make your own?

You’ll need:

1 box of brownie mix (any brand will do)

A rather large pile of any and all chocolate related Halloween candy that you can steal away from the kids – chopped into smallish sized pieces

A large cookie sheet or foil

A treadmill for after you eat the entire pan…  Kidding!

How to:

Assemble and bake the brownie mix according to the package. When the brownies are finished baking, pull them out of the oven and immediately distribute all of the chopped up candy bars, etc. on top of them. Once the candy is on, quickly put the cookie sheet over the top of the pan to seal in the heat from the just baked brownies. If you do not have a cookie sheet, use a double layer of foil and seal tightly. Do NOT put the pan back into the oven. Turn the oven off. I repeat, turn. it. off.

Let the brownies sit on the counter covered for at least 15-20 minutes until the candy has completely melted. Take the cookie sheet/foil off the pan and with a knife, gently swirl the melted gooey goodness all over the brownies to create a sort of candy “icing”.

You are then left with two choices: Let them cool like a wuss… or devour them in their pure and perfect warmness state. I vote for the latter!

Pineapple Banana Smoothie

pineapple-orange-banana-smoothieSometimes with the colder weather marching in, it’s nice to have a little reminder of the summer days left behind.

And yeah, it might also be nice to get in an extra serving or two of fruits and veggies when you’ve eaten nothing but leftover Halloween candy all day.

Either way, a pineapple banana smoothie may be just what you need to bring back warm memories and whittle your waist! Oh, and guess what? It has spinach in it! Even better? Your kids will never know! This pineapple banana smoothie might even become a lifesaver for those wonderful mornings when no one can get their crap together and you need breakfast on the go. Lord knows we can use all the help we can get in this house!

I used my new Ninja Kitchen System to whip this tangy drink up, but you can also use a traditional household blender as well.

Pineapple Banana Smoothie – with spinach

1 ripe peeled banana

1 cup fresh pineapple

1 cup fresh spinach leaves

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 container banana or vanilla flavored yogurt

8 – 10 ice cubes

Throw everything into the blender and whip it, whip it good!

Once you have a smooth consistency, pour in a cup, add a straw and enjoy! Oh, and give some to your kids – I GUESS.

Tip: add a little more OJ or a few extra ice cubes depending on your thickness preference.

Coming Up: Ninja Kitchen System!

We will be featuring several Ninja Kitchen System recipes soon!

ninja

Keep an eye out for tutorials on everything from smoothies to soups to cookie dough and whether or not the Ninja has enough power and capability to handle it all. We are super excited and can’t wait to get started!

How about you? Do you own your own Ninja kitchen system? Has the Ninja helped to sneak a few extra fruits and veggies into your little ones? Give us your favorite recipes in the comments below and we just might add it to our list of things to try and review.

If you are thinking of purchasing a Ninja Kitchen System yourself, check out this helpful review from KitchenBlenderSystems Reviews.com. It is a great in-depth article that will definitely help you to decide if a Ninja is right for you.

My Crock Pot Does What?!

The cold and rainy weather here in Maryland this morning makes me want to yank my crock pot out of hiding and blow the dust off. I just can’t bring myself to use it in the summer, with our BBQ grill right outside our patio door, it just seems wrong! Like wearing gloves to the pool.

So I think today is a perfect day to officially start crock pot season. And I think this year I will take my crock pot uses to a whole new level!

Did you know that a crock pot can…

Make pot roast? Well, duh.

crock pot

It would literally be a crime against nature if I didn’t state the most obvious (and popular) use for crock pots: a tender pot roast that’s been simmering all day, swimming with potatoes and carrots and intensely flavorful broth that can be whipped into heavenly gravy…and biscuits… and… I think I just gained 5 pounds, I better stop.

So while it’s not the most enlightening use for your slow cooker, I thought I’d share a recipe to get your crock pot juices flowing. This pot roast recipe by Sandra Lee from The Food Network is easy to throw together before you head out for the day. You could even throw in cubes of butternut squash if you want to add a touch of sweetness. 

Make baked potatoes?

baked potatos

Sometimes microwaved baked potatoes just won’t do. And sometimes making baked potatoes in the oven is too much of a hassle. Enter: the crock pot baked potato. A simple set of instructions found here at Food.com will get you on your way to perfectly cooked potatoes in no time. The best part? You can let them bake away for up to 4 hours. Just enough time to clean the house… or take a nap.

Use a liner for easy clean-up?

I’ve had great luck with these slow cooker liners made by Reynolds. You can find these and several other brands in your local grocery store, Walmart or Target.

crockpot liners

This is a total game changer in the crock pot world. No longer do you have to wait for the crock to cool down and then use every last arm muscle you own to lift the thing into the sink and pray that you don’t drop it into a million pieces while washing off the 8 hour cooked on pieces of beef. If I could, I would line EVERYTHING.

Make the most delicious brownies you’ve ever tasted?

fudge brownies crock pot

These Fudge Brownies by The Crockin’ Girls are to die for.

Trust me on this. You will be SO glad that you made these. Seriously, just make them. Don’t share if you can get away with it.

Bake bread?

crock pot bread

Yeah, this is probably a dangerous one too, just like it’s sister: the fudge brownie. There just isn’t anything quite like the smell, taste and feel of freshly baked bread. Check out this tutorial on how to make crock pot bread by Busy Mom’s Menu Plan and make sure you have plenty of butter to slather on.

Make breakfast for you?

crock pot breakfast

As a mom, I sometimes think there would be nothing better than to be able to wake up in the morning and drink my coffee in peace. Instead, I usually end up brewing and then neglecting it while I make bowls of cereal or toast waffles or scramble up a pan of eggs. By the time I get back to my once steaming mug o’ joe, it’s lukewarm at best. I tell ya, this breakfast thing is for the birds! Luckily for me (and you!), I stumbled across this gem of a recipe for a crock pot breakfast casserole by Crock-Pot Ladies and haven’t looked back. If you prefer a sweeter breakfast, try these crock pot cinnamon rolls from Just a Pinch.

Make potpourri?

crockpot potpourri

This apple cinnamon crock pot potpourri from Food.com is perfect for the Fall or holiday season. With just a few ingredients, your house will smell like you’ve been baking apple pies all day!

And, finally… Make play-dough?

crock pot playdough

This one is a little off the beaten path from your typical crock pot uses, but your kids will be so happy you decided to try it. This super simple crock pot play-dough from Repeat Crafter Me is sure to bring hours of fun and you could even have the kiddos help you make it. Now that’s my kind of rainy day fun!

Looking for more ways to use your crock pot? Check out these 26 things you can do with a crock pot from GoodenessGracious.com. You may never put away your crock pot again!

Fruit on Steroids?

I’m going to be Captain Obvious here for a moment and tell you that fruits and vegetables are some of the best food choices around when it comes to feeding both our kids and ourselves. I know, I know. For most, that’s common knowledge. It’s definitely something I have always strived to lived by too. Fresh produce can do marvelous things to your body like keeping you healthy, helping to manage your weight and maybe even preventing illnesses as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention swears by their benefits and recommends several servings a day. Who can argue with the CDC?

Well, me. Maybe.

I am by no means an “all-organic-or-nothing” type of parent. Having 3 small children and being a stay-at-home mom living on a single family income, I couldn’t be the Crunchy Yoga type even if I wanted to. I just try to be sensible and believe in moderation of everything.

(I suppose it also helps that that way of thinking justifies me in having chocolate everyday?)

So in light of this and some inspiration from one of my recent post about apples, I headed out to a local grocery store to pick up a few of the super yummy fruits. My youngest daughter and I had some baking to do!

But after a quick trip and a bag full of apples later, I have to wonder… Are they putting fruit on steroids?

I picked these beauties from the same bin!

20120430_151646

I know you’re thinking it, so I’m going to go ahead and put it out there: What.The.Hell?

Or maybe you’re just wondering why I bought it in the first place. Well, to be honest, it was so freakishly large I had to show someone. So I brought it home to let my husband and other two kids marvel in it’s largeness. And then we did the unthinkable, we ate it. We ate the steroid apple. It turned out to be substantial enough to feed 5 people a fairly decent snack! I should probably flex a muscle or two just to see if it’s changed my strength at all.

I’m not trying to start a revolution or anything here – but I will say that I’m pretty sure you won’t find such a size difference in the organic aisle. Or maybe this particular apple is just an overachiever? We’ve suffered no ill effects yet from it but I don’t think I’ll be seeking out or buying another anytime soon. That one apple alone was almost $1!

It WAS tasty though.

Redesigned By M

DIY-er who loves to redesign, repurpose, and reorganize just about everything.

Nicole Chamberlin

Lifestyle blogger with a passion for fitness

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