Saturday, September 26, 2015

Aunt Lisa Throws a Shower

I found out about 5 months ago that I was going to be an aunt again!  My brother and his wife are expecting their first baby.  I won't go into details about their story, because it's their story and they are a bit private.  However, I will say this baby is a true miracle, a surprise, and a blessing.

Well as soon as I found out, I wanted to host the baby shower.  It's a true family event. We are having it at my home, Tracy's mom is handling the games, and her step sister is making the cake.

I started preparing as it is very soon.  I am getting excited and will post the details afterwards.  For now here is a sneak peak!  Yes it's a girl :)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Chocolate Chunk Challah Bread

Do you ever get an idea stuck in your head, and the idea just won't go away?  It keeps nagging and nagging?  This happened to me last week regarding chocolate Challah bread.  Oh yes! 

My vision and the outcome were slightly different.  I envisioned a Challah bread recipe with mini chocolate chips running through it, giving it a slightly sweet taste.  So while I was adding the chocolate chips to the bread dough, what I didn't think about was the heat when the bread was proofing.  Yep, it melted my chips completely into the dough.

That however wasn't so bad, because now I had this wonderful mocha colored dough, that smelled like heaven!

So I needed it to have some chocolate running through it. I chose to add chocolate chunks and chocolate chips in the dough ropes before braiding it.  Once it was baked, the chocolate created little pockets of melted heaven.
I received the vote of approval from the kids and Jay.  It's a very delicious treat and makes fabulous French toast.
Here's how it came together in a bread machine:
8 oz. plus 1 Tbsp. warm water
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. oil
1 egg, room temperature

1 tsp. salt
3 1/4 c. bread flour
2 tsp. active dry yeast

Add the above ingredients in the order listed above.  Then select the dough cycle for 1.5 lb. loaf.  Add 1/4 c. mini chocolate chips to the extras tray (if your machine doesn't have an extras tray, add it last in the list of ingredients).

Once the dough has completed it's cycle, turn out on a floured surface. Divide the dough into three equal pieces, and form into ropes.

Slightly flatten the ropes, and lay the chocolate chips and/or chunks right down the middle.

Then pinch the rope closed around the chocolate.

Braid the ropes normally as you would for regular challah bread.  Stud the top with more chunks and allow to rise for 45 minutes.

Brush with an egg wash and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.  Allow to cool on a rack.

I made three smaller loaves, just divide dough into nine pieces
to make three loaves

Eat with in a few days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Banana Bread Smoothie

I fully intended to get a picture of this smoothie today for my blog.  I took a sip as I was looking for my camera, and then I took another sip, then another.  By the time I found my camera, this is what I was able to photograph:


I found a recipe similar to this on Pinterst, called a cinnamon roll smoothie.  I tweaked it a bit and changed up some proportions.  The outcome was a smoothie that tasted more like banana bread than a cinnamon roll.  Still equally delicious! 

ingredients (makes 1 serving)

4 oz. skim milk
3 oz. low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 small banana, frozen
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. oatmeal
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Blend away!  It may take a bit longer to get smooth because of the oatmeal.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Strawberry Pineapple Smoothie

I put my new little Ninja to work again this morning.  It's still a breeze to clean and I am truly loving my purchase.  Today's post is a simple sweet delight.....Strawberry Pineapple Smoothie!


6 oz. skim milk or almond milk
6 oz. low-fat reduced sugar strawberry yogurt
1/2 c. frozen strawberries
1/2 c. frozen pineapple chunks

Blend until smooth!  If it is too thick, thin with a bit more milk.


Friday, July 24, 2015

New Smoothie Machine

Ninja Storm Designer Series 400 Watt 40 oz. Food & Drink Maker

I love a new kitchen gadget, especially one that comes in fun colors.  Well, I bought a new fuchsia gadget for making smoothies.  Now, it can be used for a many other things, but I bought it for mixing up my protein drinks.

 I wanted it for one main reason.  Easy clean up.  I have a Vitamix, which I love, but sometimes it is a pain to clean.  In the morning I want to mix up a quick 8 oz. breakfast drink, and I really don't feel like cleaning the bigger blender.  So more times than not, I skip the smoothie. 

While watching QVC the other day, I saw a cute little Ninja.  Now they were showing all the great things it can do, but all I saw was easy peasy smoothie mixer.  The bonus was it came in a gazillion colors.  I of course chose the pink option. 

Tonight I used it for the first time, and in about 90 seconds I was enjoying a chocolate peanut butter smoothie.  I paused my drinking and cleaned the new machine in about 30 seconds.  Yep, I am a happy smoothie maker.   It is still currently available from QVC, just search Ninja Storm.  It's under $30.00, so go ahead and give it a try.

 Now I need to find all new recipes to try out.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Banana Topped Pancakes

This last week here in Lake View we have been blessed with beautiful weather.  I have been able to get outside and start weeding, removing of deceased shrubs, and plant new ones.  I have also taken the opportunity to take my exercise outdoors. 

Today, I ran.  Yes, I said, I RAN!!! Those who know me, know normally I wouldn't run unless I was being chased by a bad guy, a swarm of bees, or I was running towards Matt Bomer.  I started by walking, but just couldn't get my heart rate up enough, so I started a trot which led to a nice jog/run pace.  Did I enjoy it?? Hell no, but I have been trying to change up my workouts.  I figured doing this every now and then won't kill me (I hope).

OK, so there's the workout update.  Family update: not too much going on.  Adam had his Orchestra concert last night.  It was really wonderful. We experienced the beginner players, then were treated to middle school Chamber Group, and two high school bass state champions. 

Now on to the new recipe for today.  With Mother's Day approaching I wanted to post an easy breakfast or brunch item.  I made these for dinner last week, and the boys loved them.  Now, I will say banana topped pancakes are a treat.  What day better to treat mom than Mother's Day?!

recipe (serves 6)

1 batch of your favorite pancake recipe, I used my light and fluffy pancakes
2 medium ripe bananas, sliced
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 tbsp. butter
whipped cream

First prepare your pancakes and start them on the griddle.  You can make the pancakes and stack them in a warm oven first or do it the same time as the topping.


In a skillet, melt the butter and brown sugar over a low flame until sugar is dissolved (about 3 to 4 minutes).  Add cinnamon and sliced bananas.  Gently coat bananas in the brown sugar sauce. Don't cook them too long or they will be mushy, only about a minute or two until they are warm.

Spoon sauce over pancakes and top with whipped cream. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Chicken

Happy Earth Day!!!  I know it's a day late, but here's the recipe I teased earlier.  I love this one because most of the prep work can be done the night before. It makes the morning that much easier. I also like this sweet and sour sauce because I have texture issues.

Yes, I am a strange food texture phobic person. I don't like anything slimy, gloopy (yes that is a word), mealy, mushy, and the list goes on.  So the typical sweet and sour sauce falls into the gloopy category.....yuck!  Now that is my personal opinion.  This sauce is thinner and just coats everything nicely without congealing.

As I mentioned before, I do the bulk of the work the night before.  That consists of browning the chicken, slicing the vegetables, and making the sauce.  The next morning, dump in the slower cooker, open a few cans, and turn it on.  Voila!!!


1 lb. diced chicken, I used a combination of skinless thighs and breasts
1 medium green pepper
3 large carrots
1/4 c. sliced onion, or 1 tbsp. minced dried onion flakes
1 small can water chestnuts
1 small can pineapple chunks, with juice
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. corn starch

The night before in a large skillet, sprinkle with salt & pepper and brown the diced chicken.  Do not cook through, just brown on all sides (takes about 3 minutes or so).  Set aside to cool.

Peel and slice the carrots, pepper, and onion. Put in an airtight container. 

In a large measuring cup, combine brown sugar, vinegar, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, salt and pepper.  Cover with plastic wrap.

Ok, the prep work is done, cover everything, and refrigerate until morning.

In the morning, dump the chicken and prepared veggies in the slow cooker. Sprinkle with the cornstarch and toss to coat.  Add the pineapple with juice to the measuring cup and combine to finish the sauce.  Pour over the chicken and vegetables.  Set the slow cooker to low for 6 hours.

An hour before the chicken is done, add the drained water chestnuts. Serve over rice.