Friday, February 26, 2010


Do you ever have dreams that are so real you think they really happened? Sometimes I have to ask Hubby, did this happen or was it a dream...
One night I dreamed about having a conversation with my mother. I dreamed that I was telling her how to differentiate between Ravens and Crows. They are both black birds of roughly the same body shape. The main difference is that Ravens are larger than Crows. In my dream I had a different way of telling these birds apart. I told my mom that the way you can tell a Raven and a Crow apart is that crows have yellow legs and a yellow bill. THIS IS TOTALLY WRONG! Ravens and Crows have black bills and legs. However, after this dream, I was driving with my husband and had to make sure that crows did not have yellow because it seemed so real. This is just one example of realistic dreams I have had. I have had dreams of arguing with Hubby, and once I woke up so mad at him, and it was hard to get over the fact that it was a dream. I don't remember what the dream counterpart of my husband had done, but it was something that made me really upset with him.
Do you ever have dreams that you confuse with reality?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pineapple Ham

 We had some ham that I wanted to use up, so I decided to try pineapple and ham. It turned out very well and was absolutely delicious over rice. It is fun to be creative with items you have on hand and need to use before they go bad. ;) Not that ANY of you ever have to worry about that!

Pineapple Ham

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Start the rice cooking. Actually if you are using white rice, you can wait until you put the dish in the oven. If using brown rice, start the rice cooking.
Place 1/2 cup brown rice per person in a rice cooker (or pan).
Add water according to ratio on package or according to rice cooker instructions. I use 1.5 cups water to 1 cup rice in my cooker. Add 1 Tbsp oil and 1 tsp salt. Start it cooking.
Place 4-6 ham slices (1/4-1" thick) in a 8x13 pan to bake in a 300 degree oven.
Prepare Pineapple Carrot Sauce (I use the word sauce lightly here.)
Place pineapple juice from one (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple in a saucepan. I did not have a can of crushed pineapple which would have worked great, but had chunks, which I cut into smaller pieces. To save time use crushed pineapple. Trust me on this one. Reserve pineapple chunks for later.

 Combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a prep bowl.
Set aside.
Peel 3-5 medium carrots, cut off ends

and finely grate the carrots.
It should yield 1 to 1-1/2 cups finely grated carrot.
  Now go back to the saucepan of pineapple juice.
 Turn on the burner to medium. 
While the juice is heating up, whisk in the dry ingredients. 
Cook until thick. Once the sauce is thick, add pineapple,
and carrots.
Mix together and heat through.
Remove ham from oven.
Place carrot and pineapple mixture over each slice of ham.
Return to oven and back for 20 more minutes.
Remove from oven.
Doesn't this just look delicious?
Serve over rice.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Resolutions Week 5, how are your goals coming?

Week Five of Resolutions...

- I cheated on my sugar intake this week, I had an extra serving of my sugary snack this week. I give myself 1/4-1/2 of a cup each week. Last Saturday, I had a rough day and gave myself an extra 1/2 cup. I did notice as I was eating it all in one sitting that I can tell when I eat a lot of sweet stuff now. I actually had to get a drink because it was too sweet. I was eating peanut M&M's (personal weakness of mine) and couldn't finish a half a cup without drinking a sip of milk.

- I made a few new recipes this week. I made a veggie recipe to go with the salmon we had on Sunday. I also made a french onion soup sauce for the first time.

-This past week I did a lot better about exercising! I actually exercised 5 out of 7 days. Two of those days I did an aerobic DVD in the morning and went on a 1.5 to 2 mile walk in the evening. I am starting to get away from the mentality of, "I have already exercised 3 times this week", or "I still have 4 days to exercise, I can take a break." It is great. I try to exercise when I get up every day now. I always take Sunday off, except for walking our puppy. I am also seeing results on the weight scale, which was a secondary reason for my exercise and sugar reduction goal. I have lost about 1 lb per week, which is where it should be since I'm breastfeeding. I am only about 5 lbs off from reaching my pre-pregnancy weight (and a few more, okay quite a few more to get to where I was when I got married which is my overall goal.)

- I actually read a book! I read the book my sister-in-law gave me. It is a Newbery Honor book: Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. It is a great book about a more real life fairy tale. In the book the main character learns more about the country she lives in as she is also learning more about the mountain she was born and raised on. It brings home the reality that as you learn more about the world you tend to learn more about the area around you and appreciate its value more.  

- I definitely spent 2 hours reading this week, as well as taking photos (and editing them) of my son for his 11 month day.

How are your goals coming?

Don't Forget to enter the giveaway that is going on this week!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday Treat: White Chocolate Molten Lava Cake

About 2 months ago I posted about finding a great recipe for Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes. It is a delicious treat, and I LOVE it! I also wanted to try a white chocolate molten lava cake, and let me say - DELICIOUS. It is pretty much the same as the original - except I use white chocolate squares and reduce the amount of sugar. Turned out beautifully!
This was the dessert I made for our late Valentine's Day dinner. A perfect ending to the meal!
White Chocolate Molten Lava Cake
In a medium bowl combine Four White Chocolate Baking Squares (4 ounces) and ½ cups Butter. Melt in microwave for 1 minute.
Mix until smooth.
Whisk in ½ cup Powdered Sugar. It may not look so pretty after it is all mixed in, but after you add the eggs it will be great.
Add 2 Eggs and 2 Egg Yolks. Beat until smooth.
Add 6 Tablespoons Flour, stir until just combined.
Pour into 4 greased baking dishes (about 1/2 cup per dish). I used Ramekins, but you can use custard dishes.
Bake at 400 Degrees for 13 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 1 minute.
Run a knife around the edges to loosen. Turn over onto plate. Once the cake has dropped, remove baking dish.
Serve immediately.
If desired serve with a raspberry sauce. (For a basic raspberry sauce bring 1 lb of frozen raspberries to a simmer, add 1 Tbsp honey. If desired either strain seeds out or use a blender, or serve with seeds)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Menu - February 15-21

This week started out at my In-Law's house, it was a nice vacation. My son slept better there than he does at home... I still have not figured that one out yet. Maybe it was darker there which made him sleep better? Who knows, but it made me want to have him sleep in that room more often. Of course my brother in law (age 16) wouldn't be so happy if that happened, as he was nice enough to let us all sleep in there for the few days we were visiting. It totally reminded me of giving up my room for my visiting siblings. I know I had to at least once...
Sunday I made the Valentine's meal for Hubby that I didn't get to make as we were at his parents. I usually try to make him a really nice meal for Valentine's Day. We had our meal and then for dessert we had White Chocolate Molten Lava Cake. I'll be posting that recipe tomorrow. It is delicious! Usually I make him steak for Valentine's day, as he loves steak and we don't usually justify the cost. We do not like to eat out on Valentine's day as it is usually too busy for our liking. Plus it gives me an excuse to make a fancier menu than normal.

Here is this week's Menu:

Monday: Chicken Strips (My sister in law's recipe) These are so good, I will be making them in the future!

Tuesday: Traveling home, stopped by Wendy's (I wanted Subway but there wasn't one around where we stopped.) I got a baked potato, Caesar side salad, and a Junior cheeseburger. I had to get the burger, it was calling my name.

Wednesday: Shepherd's Pie

Thursday: Pineapple Ham

Friday: Meatballs and Rice

Saturday: Chicken and Biscuits (Made by Mom)

Sunday: Lemon Pepper Salmon and Veggies with Rice

Be sure to vote in the poll for the recipe you want to see on Thursday!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Confession - I'm unorganized...

Today I was going to post the recipe for the Meatball Rigatoni, since it has been over a week since I said I would post it in a few days. The only problem is that I don't know where I sketched the recipe... I really cannot find it currently. I will be posting it when the recipe turns up again... or when I decide to try making it again. For those of you who want to try making one similar, I did a basic Alfredo Sauce with white pepper and thyme (and something else?) and simmered meatballs in it for 20 minutes to warm up the meatballs. Served over Rigatoni. I will post the exact recipe when I find it though...

Just an FYI - I do have good intentions of typing recipes and keeping the written ones in my cooking binder, but sometimes I just don't. Maybe that will be one of my resolutions next year. ;) I hope you have a good Saturday!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Foodless Friday: On Winter and Spring

I love the first time it snows, there is something so beautiful about a blanket of white covering the earth. That being said, I LOVE spring. Spring, come out of hiding soon! Please...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Oatmeal Pancakes with Raspberry Syrup

I think I may be off my pancake kick now... This was the last pancake recipe that I HAD to try! There are a few others that I would like to try in the future, but I think I want to make dinner food now. The combination of the pancakes and syrup are delicious. I hope you enjoy them!

Oatmeal Pancakes

In a medium mixing bowl, combine 1 cup quick cooking Oats, 1 cup All Purpose Flour, 2/3 cup Whole Wheat Flour, 1 Tbsp Sugar, 1 tsp Salt, 1 Tbsp Baking Powder, and 1 tsp Baking Soda.
Add 1 Egg, 1-1/2 to 2 cups Milk, and 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil to dry mixture. Mix until combined. Do not over mix.

In a hot skillet, over medium heat place 1/4 cup batter, cook for 3-4 minutes and flip. Cook for 1-3 minutes more.  Repeat with remaining batter. Top with Raspberry Syrup.

Raspberry Syrup

1 Lb Frozen Raspberries
1 Tbsp honey
1 cup apple raspberry juice, divided
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar or to taste

Place raspberries in saucepan, and heat until gently simmering. Add 1 Tbsp honey 3/4 cup Apple Raspberry Juice. Transfer sauce to a sieve to remove seeds. Place sauce back into saucepan, and heat until simmering. Meanwhile combine 1/4 cup juice and cornstarch in a separate container. Add sugar to Raspberry sauce to taste. Slowly add Cornstarch mixture to simmering sauce. Simmer until thickened. Serve hot.

Printer Friendly Oatmeal Pancakes
Printer Friendly Raspberry Syrup

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Resolutions Week 4, how are your goals coming?

Week Four of Resolutions...

- As far as sugar intake is concerned, I realized that I am not as committed when I travel and visit others. I ate more sugary items than I should have. Of course we did an early birthday party for my son and his cousin (her birthday is in about a week, but my son's is not until next month), so of course I had to have some cake then. It was dished out before I could request a half amount, but I didn't complain either. I guess I have some self control issues to work on, but my sister-in-law made a wonderful chocolate cake!

- Last week I made raspberry syrup and oatmeal pancakes as my new recipes.

- So this past week was a fluke as we were gone from Thursday to Tuesday. I did exercise twice in the past 7 days, and we did walk around the mall (I was carrying a 20 lb baby too) but it wasn't necessarily for exercise.

- Still have not started a book, but my sister-in-law gave me one while we were visiting, so I am going to read it.

-I am not sure if I spent 2 hours doing something for me, but I did have a good time visiting with my inlaws.

How are your goals coming?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday Menu: February 8-14

This past week has been interesting... I actually only cooked one meal this week! I also forgot it was Monday today until just now. My husband and I are currently visiting his family so there will also be no pictures as they are all on my computer at home! I hope you all had a great Valentine's Day.

Due to me actually only making one meal this week, there will be no poll and I will be posting the recipe for Oatmeal Pancakes with Raspberry Syrup on Thursday. I hope you all had a great President's Day!

Here is our menu:

Monday: Pork Chops with Cumin Rice (Made by my mom)

Tuesday: Leftover Pork Chops with Cumin Rice

Wednesday: Oatmeal Pancakes with Raspberry Syrup

Thursday: Pizza (on our way out of town)

Friday: Ate out with Hubby's family at a Pizza/Pasta Buffet

Saturday: BBQ Chicken (made by my mother in law)

Sunday: Hawaiian Haystacks (Mother in Law made these as well)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bacon Couscous

This recipe is the first time I have ever actually made couscous (why did I wait so long?!?). It turned out very well and I loved eating this dish. It is actually better the second day as the flavors have had time to mix.

Bacon Couscous

In a saucepan over medium heat, saute 1 green bell pepper, diced and half of an onion, diced in 1 Tablespoon olive oil until tender.
 Combine 3 cups cooked couscous (about 6 ounces dry),
1/2 lb. bacon, diced and cooked, bell pepper, onion and 2 tsp parsley in a bowl.
Toss to combine.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Resolutions Week 3, how are your goals coming?

Week 3 of my resolutions... For the list of resolutions, click here.

- Reduced sugar intake is going okay, but I am still not completely living up to my goal of only 2 desserts per week. I find it hard to do this when I make a pan of brownies, I still have this mentality that I NEED to eat my 'fair share' before the dessert disappears. Which doesn't really make sense, because if I only want 2 desserts per week, my share may only be one! I am slowly getting over this... I actually had a bowl of ice-cream last week that was only a half a cup - I would usually have had a whole bowl. So I am making some progress!

- In the past week I made a new pizza dough recipe, which I honestly think is the recipe I will be using in the future! It was delicious.

- This past week was not so great for exercising... I had weird stomach pains, but I did go for two 1.5-2 mile walks. I missed one day of exercising to meet my goal. Unfortunately this week may not be so good as we're planning on visiting my inlaws this weekend.

- I still need to find a good book to read this month.

- This week I toyed with making gift boxes. I think I have a good method for making them now.

How are your goals coming?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday Treats: Homemade Honey Truffle Chocolates

About one year ago, I made homemade chocolates for the first time, and they are so heavenly! They do take a little bit of work, but so do sugar cookies if you think about it... However you'd be more likely to give away sugar cookies than these chocolates. They are that delicious. Of course it does matter what type of ingredients you use. I used Guittard chocolate chips, mainly because they have 63% cacao chips, and because the chips were cheaper by ounce than the bars of chocolate.

When making these chocolates, I would use dark chocolate such as 63-70% cacao. You can use semisweet, but use a little less honey. I tried using milk chocolate around Christmas, and it works, but they were too sweet for me - however Hubby loved them (he is a milk chocolate lover and I'm a dark chocolate lover, I have not converted him to dark yet.) If you do use milk chocolate you will need to freeze them in order to shape them into balls and coat them with the melted chocolate. Semisweet chocolate also works, but you will want to use a bit less honey as well.


Homemade Truffles

Start by making the ganache. Place 1 cup chocolate chips or 6 ounces finely chopped chocolate in a bowl, set aside. In a saucepan, combine 1/4 plus 2 Tbsp whipping cream, 1-1/2 Tablespoon butter (unsalted is best), and 1 tsp honey (you can also use corn syrup or a homemade sugar syrup of 3 parts sugar and 1 part water - however the honey gives a good flavor.) 
 Stir often over low heat until cream mixture boils and becomes bubbly.
Pour the boiling cream mixture over the chocolate. 
Let chocolate and cream mixture sit for 5 minutes to let the chocolate melt. Do not stir during this time. To help the chocolate melt you may need to place the bowl of chocolate and cream into a hot water bath (making sure not to get water in the chocolate.)
Once the 5 minutes is over, stir until velvety smooth. Place chocolate into the fridge and let sit for 15 minutes. 
Remove from refrigerator and stir. Refrigerate for another 15 minutes.
Remove chocolate from fridge and stir again. It will be starting to get more stiff and harder to stir. Refrigerate for another 15 minutes.
Remove from fridge and stir, it should be stiff by now. At this point I used a hand beater. I have used a fork to stir at this stage before, but the hand beater works better and I think makes the chocolate more smooth once completed. 
Place back in the refrigerator, but only for 5 minutes this time.
Remove and stir again. Place for another 5 minutes in the fridge.
Remove and stir. Congratulate yourself, you're finished with the mixing! Place chocolate in the fridge for 10-15 minutes more.
Remove chocolate from fridge and form into rough balls. I use about 1/2 Tbsp to 2 tsp ganache per ball. Refrigerate for 10-15 more minutes and shape into balls. Place ganache into the freezer for about 10-20 minutes. You can refrigerate them for 15-20 minutes instead of freezing them, but I find that freezing the ganache balls makes it so they get a thicker chocolate shell and it helps them set faster.
Melt 1 cup chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate) in the microwave (or a double broiler if you prefer). To melt in microwave, microwave on high for 30 seconds, stir, microwave for 30 seconds more, stir. Continue with 30 second increments until all pieces are melted, but make sure it does not get too hot to handle. You will be hand dipping chocolate and do not want to burn yourself. You also do not want the ganache to melt into the melted chocolate.
 Place a ganache ball into the melted chocolate. 
Roll around in chocolate, be sure to coat all of it. 
Place on a greased cookie sheet or on waxed paper. Waxed paper is the preferred way, but I did not realize that I only had parchment paper until I was at this step. Oops.
Let the chocolate set until the coating is hardened. If you want to put something on the top so you know what the flavor is, you need to do it before it is set. You will need to top them as soon as you coat each one.
This one above I completely coated in vanilla wafer crumbs. Delicious. 
These are basic honey flavored truffles. The flavor combinations you can try are endless. I am not super crazy about some combinations you can find from Chocolatiers these days... I've tried a lavender one, and I did not particularly like it. Some I have tried making are:

Pecan Cheesecake:
 Add 3 Tbsp Cheesecake cream cheese (room temperature) spread to chocolate just after steeping for 5 minutes. 
Then once coated in chocolate, roll in finely chopped pecans.

 Add 3 Tbsp Cheesecake cream cheese spread (room temperature) to chocolate just after steeping for 5 minutes. 
Once coated in chocolate, roll in graham cracker crumbs or vanilla wafer crumbs.

Replace honey with sugar syrup.
Add 1/2 tsp fresh finely grated lemon zest to chocolate before steeping.
Once coated in chocolate, place a small strip of lemon peel on top.

Peanut Butter & Jam:
1/4 cup Peanut butter (omit butter), 2 Tbsp jam - I used raspberry seedless jam (omit sugar syrup/honey). Add after steeping for 5 minutes. It is easier to mix the PB and J together before adding to the cream. The Jam/Jelly will add in easier if already mixed to the PB.

Cinnamon Spice:
Add 2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp red pepper to the cream.

Pumpkin Pie:
1/4 cup Pumpkin puree reduced to a thick paste, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp ginger added to the cream before scalding.

I guarantee anyone you give these to will LOVE them (with the obvious exceptions of those people who are allergic to chocolate and those poor souls who do not like chocolate.)