Wednesday, March 31, 2010

chicken run, a work in progress

the girls....

a view from inside there new run....

it will be plenty big for them with views of blue skies....

not to mention pricey....

maybe i should have named them carrie, samantha, charlotte and miranda....

mocha chocolate chip muffins

i made these muffins the other day for the gang and boy howdy are they a keeper. this is a bon appetite magazine recipe and you can find it here. i pretty much followed the recipe with a few changes. not having buttermilk or pecans, i used milk soured with cider vinegar and skipped the pecans all together. i also used only 1/3 cup chocolate chips because my chips, from trader joe's, were huge. i am thinking next time, i will use buttermilk and throw in some walnuts. i truly think you could use any type of milk, but buttermilk really seems to add to the moistness of baked goods or so i believe, but i am not a trained professional. i also just like walnuts with chocolate much better than pecans. folks, these muffins are not super sweet, but are super good. also, they are moist with a rich, deep, chocolate flavor. i know they are good, not only because they are all gone, but because i snuck a top off one(don't tell the doc).

mocha chocolate chips muffins, better than anything you can make from a box or buy wrapped in cello with otis spunkmonkey stamped on top! go make a batch for the family today. enjoy.

ps-i did use the hershey's special dark cocoa in this recipe.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

the winner of the cupcake is......

as picked by random, #6-Tealady!!! I will send you your goodies this week and thanks for playing!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

abby, lucy, daisy and minnie....

the chicken are here. they left their home at the local feed store to move to their new digs.

our empty wood box in the den. they have a comfy storage bin filled with pine shaving, topped with paper towels(which i removed after a few hours), food, water and lots of warmth from a red heat lamp. ahhhh, chicken bliss....

we put them into their new cozy nook and they promptly crapped all over the place.

aren't they cute?

abby and lucy are rhode island reds. lucy(in the sky) has a (with) diamond(s) on her head, so we can tell those two apart, for now.

daisy and minnie are black sex links, which is a cross between a rhode island red and a barred plymouth rock. daisy's little wing is white tipped, so it helps id her, for now. both breeds are great egg layers, friendly and handle confinement well. although, i have to say with the run jamie is building, they are going to think they are free ranged, lots of space to scratch, peck and talk. well, i am sure i will take plenty more pics of the girls to share, hopefully less poopy shots. until later.

ps-thank you all for the name suggestions. i will pick a winner tomorrow for my little cheep giveaway!

Friday, March 26, 2010

my new favorite thing

my new coin wristlet by joyce pleasant from her etsy shop, jp's accessories. i was introduced to joyce's handy work by my friend lauri. she owns several of jp's handbags. they are gorgeous and i was jealous. when lauri's birthday rolled around, i remembered those purses and looked up joyce's shop to see what else she offered. that birthday lauri got this wonderful little cosmetic bag. isn't it cute?
the next birthday she got this custom made wristlet. isn't even cuter?

then there is julie and her birthday. she dropped an ever so subtle hint that she would like a case for her ipod touch. hmmm, let's ask joyce, sure enough she came through making a quality case with ear bud storage. i mean, does it get any cuter than this?

yes, yes it does. now, it is my turn. i was wanting something to carry with me when walking. i originally thought of a custom fanny pack, but my fanny is so large and jiggly, that i didn't think it needed any more attention. all though i knew joyce would do a fab job i opted for a wristlet similar to lauri's. i convo'd(etsy talk for emailed) joyce, picked a material and got this in the mail a week later.
i love it!
i love the fabric, the color, and the size. joyce's love and care shines through in her craftsmanship. all pieces are heartily stitched and fully lined. you can tell she takes great pride in her work.

now the best part, i just ordered a purse! let me clarify something here. i am cheap. i own three purses that all over five years old and cost less than ten dollars each. this purse will be the most money i have ever spent on a pocketbook and still isn't that much. it is top quality and will be worth every penny. i am so excited. i found the fabric of my choice online, linked her, got a return email saying not a problem give her a week or so. how simple is that? i hope you will visit jp's accessories and browse her store. i think you will agree that her work is amazing.

gosh, the next week is going to drag by. i am so excited, again. below is my fabric. can you guess which one?

ps-it's called the funky chicken. i am also really digging the egg beater fabric that compliments it, too. hmmm........

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

a cupcake giveaway

i want to give you a chocolate cupcake, well a chocolate sock cupcake in honor of the arrival of spring, but most notably my chickens! they should be here saturday and i can not wait. we plan to get three pullets, so chicken names are big talk in the house. well, mostly big talk for me, i can't seem to let it go. i told my kids they can name one and i get to name the other two. they have already decided on abby for their chick. i love that choice. me, i can not make up my mind. i do like people names rather than cutesy names like potpie or dumplin'. i lean towards names such as dolly, martha and hattie, even blanche. this has become as important to me as naming my human children was. now where did i put my old baby name book?

anyway, how about some name suggestions? if you will submit your favorites via comments, i will randomly pick someone to win my sock-it-to-me cupcake. it can be displayed or worn. it is simply made with ladies socks. i also plan to send a few more sneaky surprises along with it. come on and play with me. get cracking.

p.s don't forget to leave me a way to contact you. if you twitter and rt my giveaway, come back here and tell me. it will give you another chance to win. this is open to my u.s. friends only. i love all of you, but international shipping is crazy. contest ends sunday.

Monday, March 22, 2010

the chickens are coming

i have always wanted a chicken, so i am getting three! i am so excited.

i had mentioned to jamie in the past that i wanted one, but just figured it would becomes a snack for the resident owl, hawk or coons. recently i have been having a conversation with a new friend in tennessee and she brought up beekeeping. i too always wanted to keep bees, but that is not likely due to allergies and fears in my family. i told her about my chicken dream, and she shares that with me as well. i brought it up again with jamie about giving some backyard chickens a try. my husband must like me at least a little, because he was out in the garage immediately building our new coop! it is made entirely from old recycled fence boards and has not cost us a penny, yet. it is a work in progress, with three nesting boxes. we are getting three chicks, but you only need one box per two hens, so we expand our brood if we want. we are leaving it partially open on the bottom for the dropping which will mix below with mulch and make great compost. i can't wait.

we hope to get our chicks saturday at the local feed and seed. i will keep you posted, along with more pics. we, i say we, but jamie has to finish the coop and build a run. also, the most important thing of all-names! i keep throwing names out there to the point that caroline has asked me, "mom, stop talking about chicken names". I lay in bed at night thinking of names. Let me share a few with you....marcia, jan and cindy, or jill, kelly and sabrina, or mary ellen, erin and elizabeth, or popeye, bojangles and the colonel? my list goes on and on.....give me your suggestions.

my friend lisa suggested ann dumplings as in "chicken ann dumplings". good one.

wait a minute, they will be treated like princesses, so how about jasmine, belle and aurora?

dang, where is that old baby name book......

Saturday, March 20, 2010

rocky road peep brownies

this isn't really a recipe much as it is something fun to do. who doesn't love brownies? throw in some marshmallow peeps, handful of chocolate chips and walnuts, voila, you've got rocky road. it is simple. bake your favorite box brownie mix in an 8x8 pan per directions. our favorite is the walmart house brand, no joke. it beats out all the other name brands, and trust me, we've tried them all. once they are done. lay your peeps(ours were bunnies) on top, now sprinkle with as little or as much chocolate chips and walnut pieces you like. smoosh them down into your peeps a little. now pop back into your oven and watch those babies puff. i did notice that the blue ones get kinda green from the heat, so don't freak. once puffy and gooey, remove from the oven. the marshmallow will collapse when cooled. enjoy.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

cream of asparagus soup

a foodie friend of mine, casey over at tastestopping mention on twitter last week that she was making cream of asparagus soup for dinner. hmmm.....i have never had this before and i was intrigued. i love asparagus, so i am guessing it has got to be good. i set out looking for a recipe. lo and behold, my favorite, favorite, favorite blog, for the love of cooking had one posted. i should have gone there first. pam always fixes the most delicious and healthy foods. her mexican selections, holy moly, just leave me drooling. don't go there on an empty stomach, it is down right cruel. i duplicated her recipe which was originally from cooking light magazine changing it just a bit. i swapped out fat free half and half for the low fat milk, subbed brummel and brown for the butter and omitted the bay leaf all together. i didn't have one on hand. you know what, this soup is goooood. it is light, creamy and has a very mild flavor, almost a cream of broccoli taste. you wouldn't know it was low fat. i will make this again. enjoy.

Monday, March 15, 2010

chocolate coconut bundt

first the lemon cornmeal cake, now this. i am popular in my house right now. i was thinking about the ol' pillsbury tunnel of fudge bundt cake mix the other day and suddenly remembered the chocolate coconut version. i just knew i had to duplicate it. the hubs loves the combination of chocolate and coconut, so i thought i would surprise him with this baby. needless to say, he was not only surprised, but is a very happy camper. once again, i can't eat any due to my diabetes, so i am relying on jamie to give his honest opinion of the cake. i quote, "it is fudgie, moist and i like the coconut part the best. will you make a pot of coffee?" well, okay...sure. i think it is a winner folks. he's wanting a second piece hence the coffee. now, making the cake is a breeze. you simply doctor a box of chocolate cake mix with instant chocolate pudding, whip egg whites for the coconut filling and layer in your bundt, well, maybe with a few extra steps in between. i really like the marbled look of the finished cake, too. it's so pretty with the vanilla drizzle. see.

i know this will be a real keeper at my house. how about at yours? enjoy.

beth's chocolate coconut bundt

coconut filling
2 egg whites
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups flaked coconut(one small bag)
2 tbsp. of all purpose flour
2 tsp. of real vanilla

the cake
1 box chocolate cake mix(w/o pudding)
1 package chocolate instant pudding(4 serving size)
2 egg yolks
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil

vanilla glaze
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons of milk( i used ff half and half)
pinch of kosher salt
1/4 tsp. real vanilla
1 tbsp. of butter

preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour your bundt pan. i "pam'd" mine.

beat egg whites until peaks form. gradually beat in sugar until stiff peaks form. fold in coconut, flour and vanilla. set aside.

next combine the cake mix, instant pudding mix, 2 yolks, 2 eggs, water, and oil in a large bowl. beat with mixer for 2 minutes. i actually beat mine by hand. pour a 1/3 of the batter into prepared pan. spoon in coconut mixture, spread around and then top with remaining batter.

bake for 50 to 55 minutes. i covered my cake about 40 minutes in with foil, so it wouldn't get too brown. remove and cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. cool thoroughly, and top with glaze.

to make the glaze, melt the butter and add the remaining ingredients. yum.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

tasty lower fat fettuccine alfredo

now this is one of my daughter caroline's all time favorites. she prefers the alfredo at one of the more popular chain restaurants, but is happy when i whip this up. i found this fettuccine alfredo version on recipezarr, but changed it a tiny bit. i have made it plain, with canned mushrooms(what's pictured), steamed fresh broccoli, grilled chicken and even oven roasted shrimp. all are dynamite. this recipe is much lower in fat and calories than the good ol'heart attack on a plate version and you don't really miss the extra anything. it is creamy and full of flavor and just like the other, you need to fix, serve and devour immediately or it becomes thick and then separates. also like the real deal, it doesn't reheat very well, but no matter, caroline will eat it till it is gone! enjoy.

beth's tasty lower fat fettuccine alfredo

one tbsp. butter
one good size clove of garlic, minced
one tbsp. all purpose flour
1 2/3 ff half and half(love this stuff)
2 tbsp. reduced fat cream cheese
4 cups hot cooked fettuccine, your favorite
one cup of grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp. fresh chopped parsley( i use if i have or just skip)
lots of fresh ground black pepper

in a large saucepan, melt the butter and add the minced garlic. saute for about a minute. sprinkle in the flour. with a whisk, gradually add the half and half. stir over medium heat till the mixture bubbles and thickens, about six minutes or so. now add the cream cheese, cook a couple minutes more. add the parmesan cheese, stir till melted. the cream should be nice and thick. pour over the hot fettuccine, toss well to coat. sprinkle with the parsley and black pepper. serve immediately.

i love fresh cracked black pepper!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

lemon cornmeal cake

jamie loves lemon. jamie loved this cake. i can not eat it, but i could smell it and i did, a lot. it smelled sweet, tart and very lemony. jamie concurred. he said it was dense, moist and full of flavor. it must be nice. this diabetes crap is for the birds. i found the recipe in a woman's day magazine not too long ago, it was online as well. it comes husband recommended. i am told it is tasty with a hot cup of coffee. enjoy.

you can see the sugary glaze that dripped down the sides? it is taunting me.

ps-grease and flour your bundt pan really well, especially those nooks and crannies, so you aren't missing a chunk of cake off the top like mine! i just "glued" it back on with some glaze. it didn't slow anyone down.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

italian pot roast with oven baked brown rice

italian pot roast or as my mama would say "eye-talian" pot roast was a family favorite growing up in my house. my brother kevin adores this pot roast recipe and our mom would make it often for him. kevin, the great white hunter or so he refers to himself, would keep the freezer full of game, so mom would often use venison rather than beef. no matter, both options are dang tasty(the beef tends to have less buckshot). admittedly, i had forgotten about this pot roast until recently. i had forgotten just how simple, yet flavorful it is due to both apple juice and apple cider vinegar. i needed an excuse to use my new enameled french oven and this was perfect. i just let it simmer for hours and the chuck roast became so tender it would melt in your mouth. my mom would serve this over white rice, but since i am trying to do the healthier thing these days, i served brown rice. if you think you are not a brown rice fan you have to promise me you will try it my way. if you do, you won't go back to the white stuff. my brown rice is oven baked. it has texture and a wonderful nutty flavor. it is absolutely delicious. all right, without further fanfare, here ya go. enjoy.

beth's italian pot roast

2-3 lb chuck roast, cubed and trimmed of most fat
2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup apple juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic smashed
mushrooms, i use a large can, drained
salt and pepper to taste
cornstarch slurry

combine all in a covered pot over medium heat, once bubbly, turn heat to low and simmer till cooked down and the meat is tender. i then take out some of the liquid and mix about a tbsp. of cornstarch into it to make a slurry, add to the pot and cook till the gravy is thickened.

beth's oven baked brown rice

preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit

in a covered two quart dish, combine 1 1/2 cups brown rice, 2 1/2 cups water or broth, 1 tbsp. of butter or evoo, and a pinch of salt. bake for one hour. fluff with fork and serve.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

new favorite thing, whole wheat pancakes

not only are these whole wheat pancakes easy to make, but they actually taste good!

let me tell you, i have never been a huge fan of "straight" whole wheat. it sometimes seems, well, too "wheatie" and that's probably why most whole wheat recipes involve adding some all purpose flour, not these, not necessary. on my quest to become healthier i am attempting to incorporate more whole grains such as wheat and oats into my diet as well as the family's. this is a good start, not only for my lifestyle change, but for my day. i don't like breakfast. it is not that i don't like to eat, because we know that is not an issue. it is that i don't like the common "breakfast foods". i had rather eat a lean cuisine, until now. i love these pancakes. they are quick to throw together, tasty and last till lunch, unlike a bowl of cheerios that leaves my stomach growling an hour later. this recipe makes four good sized pancakes that are pretty fluffy yet dense. i do add spices, but think these would be delicious with the addition of flax seed, fruit, chocolate chips, nuts. you name it. this pancake recipe is a great jumping off point for all sorts of combos. i like mine plain with a smidge of my favorite brummel and brown yogurt spread and some agave syrup. well, okay, i have topped one or two with some natural peanut butter while warm, oh man, so yummy! enjoy.
beth's whole wheat pancakes

in a bowl mix the following:

one cup of whole wheat flour
one cup of fat free buttermilk or your milk of choice(you can add more if you want a thinner batter)
1 egg
2 tbsp. of applesauce
2 packets of sun crystals or tbsp. of sugar
2 tsp. of baking powder
1 tsp. of vanilla extract
1/2 to one tsp. of pumpkin pie spice

heat your frying pan over med heat, spritz with cooking spray. i generally ladle out the batter to make whatever size pancake i want. watch for the bubbles or eyes to form and pop, flip and brown the other side. slather on your favorite toppings while warm. hey, even my persnickety daughter eats these.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

the baby shower cake

i volunteered to make a cake for the baby shower held in honor of my nephew's wife. i was inspired by a cake a friend of mine had made, changing it just a bit. i owe the success of this one to my bff julie, she can handle an off set spatula like nobody's business. i think it came out great!

oh, in case you can't figure it out, it is suppose to be a bathtub. see the tiny bar of soap?

ps-if you want directions on how we did it, just let me know and i will post.

Friday, March 5, 2010

homemade salisbury steak

if you are meat and potatoes kinda person, you are going to love these salisbury steaks. i made them for jamie the other night and he did. me, i am not so much on "meat patties", but i did make myself a teeny tiny one. it was good, full of flavor. it is a texture thing for me. now, i thought the the gravy and onions were daaaang tasty, too tasty in fact since i am trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle. i opted for just a spoonful, so cruel. i paired the salisbury steaks with nice full bodied,not wine, but mashed potatoes! plus some steamed fresh broccoli and garlic bread. overall, this is definitely a keeper. i found and adapted the recipe from one in a magazine. i hope you will try it.

not so healthy, but oh so good. enjoy.

beth's salisbury steak

for the patties-

1 1/4 lbs. of ground chuck
1/4 cup fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tbsp. chopped green onions, all of it
big pinch of kosher salt
big shakes or grinds of black pepper
2 tbsp. flour

for the gravy-

1 tbsp. evoo
2 cups sliced onions(i used one large)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. minced garlic(i used one huge clove)
1 t2 cups beef broth
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup dry red wine(i didn't use)
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves(i didn't use)

combine chuck, parsley, scallion, salt and pepper. divide evenly into 4 portions and shape each into 3/4"-1" thick oval patties. place 2 tbsp. flour in a shallow dish; dredge each patty in flour. reserve 1 tsp. flour.

heat 1 tbsp. oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. add patties and saute 3 minutes on each side, or until browned. remove from pan.

add onions and sugar to pan; saute 5 minutes. stir in garlic and tomato paste; saute 1 minute, or until paste begins to brown. sprinkle onions with reserved flour; cook 1 minute. stir in broth and wine, then add the salt and thyme.

return meat to pan and bring gravy to a boil. reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Monday, March 1, 2010

mexican hot chocolate

not the prettiest of pics, but sure tasty. i tried a new sugar substitute this past week called sun crystals. it is a combination of pure cane sugar and extract of the stevia plant. you can read more about it here. i really like it. it is amazingly sweet, so you need less than that of the pink, blue or yellow stuff, besides i have given up the pink, blue and yellow stuff. i have mostly been using the sun crystals in my tea and coffee, but went and explored their site. they have lots of recipes listed and this is one. i changed it slightly, just less milk. i really enjoyed this for breakfast, warm, chocolate-y and filling. i would opt out of the cinnamon next go around. i just didn't care for it. i look forward to trying more of what they offer. enjoy.

beth's mexican hot chocolate (adapted from the sun crystal's website)

heat one cup in milk in the microwave till hot, about one and half minutes.

meanwhile have ready in a blender, a tbsp. of cocoa, one tbsp. semi-sweet chocolate chips(i used the mini's), t tsp. of vanilla, pinch of salt, pinch of cinnamon and two packets of sun crystals(next time i am going to try only one packet). pour in the hot milk and blend about 30 seconds. serve in a mug. you know, some cool whip would be good on top, too. what a treat!