Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Funfetti Cake cookies

I found a box of that Funfetti cake mix in our pantry. The boys wanted to make cupcakes but they never eat the cake part just the frosting. I talked them into trying the cookie recipe on the back.
As much as I'm against box cake mix I'm glad we tried it. It was quick and easy to make.

The cookies would be perfect to bring for a new mom (who has kiddos) or to any family gathering. If you have a little one learning to bake this would be good too because it uses such few ingredients and is sure to please.
We didn't frost ours but you could if you have time.

  • 1 box Pillsbury Funfetti cake mix
  • 1/3c oil
  • 2 eggs
Preheat oven to 375. Combine all ingredients until thoroughly moistened. Shape into 1-inch balls place on cookie sheet. You need to flatten them. I did this by dusting the bottom of a glass cup with flour and gently pressing the ball. I baked them for 7-8 min.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Recycle Plastic Bulk Item Packaging

At Costco we buy the Granny Smith apples and I decided to store some of my ornaments in the packaging this year.

We also buy the pre-sliced organic apples. The container is very deep and great for transporting delicate foods, such as cake shooters. We also use them to store various items such as craft supplies.

Binder clip use in pantry

Anyone else use these binder clips to prevent bags of sugar, flour, etc. from spilling?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chicken enchiladas

When in need of a go-to comfort food meal - my enchiladas are sure to please. I serve it with avocado and spicey black beans.

Here is the recipe:

1 pack of flour torillas (I like the smallest ones)
1 lb of chicken (use any pieces you want. I just buy a whole roasted chicken and shred it)
1 med onion diced
2 green onions chopped
1 garlic clove minced
1/4c chopped fresh flat leaf parsley or cilantro
1/2 can of rotel tomatoes and chiles (I squeeze the juice out of the 4oz over the can. Then use the remaining juice/tomatoes to either add it to rice or black beans for a side dish)
1/2 teasp cumin
S&P just a pinch
pinch of red pepper flakes (heat is up to you)
8oz shredded cheese (your fav kind. I use colby jack) Divided.
1/2c of pepper jack cheese
4 oz can of green chiles
1 c sour cream
1/4c flour (I use Wondra to make my roux but you don't have to)
4 TBSP butter
2c chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350.
In a skillet with a little grapeseed oil (or whatever oil you prefer) I cook the onion, green onion and garlic. I cook the veggies for just a few minutes and then add my shredded chicken to the skillet to incorporate the flavors into the chicken. Once warm and combined I pour into a bowl.

I combine the chicken mixture with remaining "filling" ingredients. I use all of the pepper jack cheese and about 1/2c of the colby jack (or whatever cheese you are using). Stuff filling into torillas. I like mine stuffed to the point of almost breaking the torilla. Place torillas in a 9x13 pan (greased) seam side down.

Start the roux for the sauce. Melt butter in a pan, add flour and whisk until bubbly (just a minute or two ). You don't want to burn it but you want the flour taste to cook off. Whisk in your broth. I pour it in a batches but you don't have to. When its to the desired thickness remove from heat. Stir in the sour cream and chiles.
Pour sauce over stuffed torillas and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for about 20-25 min.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Frugal Winter trip PART 1

We are going to northern Michigan to Gram-sit for a few days. We didn't have much time to financially prepare so it has to be as frugal as possible.

We leave Feb 8 but I'm planning things out now (food for the trip has to come out of my husbands check this weekend) and thought I would share.  I have a notebook and multiple pages are dedicated to this trip. See below:

Page 1
Has a chart of snacks, breakfast, lunch, dinner ideas (in upper the corner). Then I have a food list that coordinates with the food in the chart. This is my Master Food List because some items/ingredients I have in house and some items I need to purchase. Next to the MFL I have a list of things we need to pack: blankies, white noise, night lights, hand warmers, first aid kit, etc.

Page 2
I have my grocery list for the next two weeks and a list of meals at the top.

Page 3
I have a chart with the days of the week listed and tentative activities planned for each day. It's a 6 hour drive so I have somewhere cheap to stop on the way there and back. I also have contact info to each place listed on this page.

On the way there/back
There is an Air Zoo in Kalamazoo. Looks awesome and for all of us it's only $24 for basic admission. We may go to the Frederik Meijer Garden and Sculpture Park but not sure. It will be $34 for all of us. Seems like it may be better to go in the spring. But if the kids are nuts in the car we may stop there in desperation. Who knows.

During Stay
My uncle is going to draw us a map of locations where the locals go sledding down random hills in the town. It's free and they are lending us a sled. WOOHOO!

Hartwick Pines State Park has a small museum and maybe a trail we can hike on. It may be an option - depends on weather.

I looked up places to swim - my boys miss it.
There is one place in Traverse City - Great Wolf Lodge - but no day passes. Looks nice too but its too costly for us to stay. Check-in is at 4pm and check-out is 11am at $200+ a night; not in our budget.

There is another water park (Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark) a little over an hour from my Grams but word 'round the campfire is its not the best area to be driving if there a lot of snow. They do have day passes and it's not badly priced. It would be around $50 for all of us. We'll have to see.

We will most likely go to the local pool (Sportsplex). They have "open swim" time slots and for the whole family it will be $10.50. They also have open skate times but Adam and I SUCK at ice skating. Its too bad because I really wanted Brant to try it.

I'm hoping for dinner one night we can go to Lucky Jacks in Traverse City. Looks like a Showbiz Pizza or something. They have an arcade, bowling, bumper cars, etc. Could be a fun time. I signed up to get a newsletter which could have some specials in Feb. We'll see.

Page 4
Details about where we are staying, what time my gram eats, where to pick up the sled, etc. Stuff like that.

I'm going to pack as soon as possible. In the meantime I'm going to bake: cookies, brownies, chicken Pot pie, etc. Meals I can freeze. I plan to bring a cooler and bring as much food with me as I can. I'm also going to pack lunch bags to pass out in the car. Yes it's a pain but it will save us money!

Easy Taco Casserole

If my husband had to choose between me and a casserole I'm not sure what his answer would be. Having said that, I try to change up the casseroles I make for him. Its quick to prepare and easy for the hubs to warm up while on the job.

Here is my version of Taco Casserole:

  • 2lbs ground beef
  • 2 packets of your fav taco seasoning
  • 1 4oz can diced green chiles (or half a can of Rotel tomato and chiles - no juice)
  • 1 med-large onion chopped (I like to add a few green onions as well if I have them)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4c coursely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley or cilantro
  • 1 pack of flour torillas
  • 1-2 cans refried beans (depending on how much you like)
  • 12 oz of your favorite cheese shredded

Preheat oven to 350. In a skillet brown your beef. Drain half the liquid. Add onion, garlic, chiles, fresh herbs and taco seasonings. Combine well. In a deep, oven-proof bowl or round baking dish, put a little of taco mixture at the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with some cheese. Take a flour torilla and spread with refried beans (about 1/4c). Place in the dish bean side up. Top with another torilla - plain. No beans. Then go again with the taco mixture and repeat. Bake for 20-25 minutes.



Triple chocolate oatmeal cookies

Triple chocolate oatmeal (adapted from Epicurious.com) cookies are my go-to cookie if I know people are trying to be health conscience.
No. It's not a cookie made with stevia, cocoa nibs and tofu. BUT people don't feel as bad when they eat it.
Unfortunately, this month I had to make a few batches of these cookies to bring to people in my life that were grieving. I dropped off these cookies with a card to let them know the Maley family was thinking of them.

Here is the recipe:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and oats and stir until blended. Stir in all chocolate chips. Bake. Eat. Enjoy.

Valentines Day cake

One day grocery shopping Mason picked out one of those pink box cakes. He doesn't ask for much so I bought it for him. A few days later we made it - I enjoy very few box cakes and this one was no different. YUCK! But I wanted to make the best of it.

I made a few cupcakes for the boys and then poured the remaining batter in a small sheet pan (with a lip). I like making cakes in this pan because it cooks quickly and I can serve a three layer cake.

I took out some strawberries out of my freezer (I had bought them over the summer at a strawberry festival) and prepared to make a quick frosting. BUT I had no cream cheese. I did find an 8oz container of Mascarpone cheese. Yes way more fattening than cream cheese but I had to get the frosting made. I used half the container. I beat it with some powdered sugar, just a few tablespoons, and then I added a teaspoon of vanilla. Then added an 8oz container of thawed cool whip and continued beating.

My cake cooked in less than 15 minutes. I cut it thirds and layered the frosting and strawberries (had to squeeze some juice out so I wouldn't soak the cake).

The frosting and amazing strawberries masked the "box cake" taste and ended up tasting delish!

If you have shooter glasses that would be great for presentation for Valentines Day. Below is a picture of the cake shooters I made for Christmas but you get the idea. Layer the glass with pink cake, red strawberries and white frosting - great Valentine treat!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Apple Sandwiches

Mix it up. Slice an apple like you would bread. Spread PB on it and call it a day or sprinkle granola over it. The kids think its silly and happily chow down! You can also make a dessert out of it: drizzle melted caramel over one side and sprinkle with chopped nuts. Top with other apple and enjoy your caramel apple dessert.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Project with scrapbook leftovers

I bought this canvas set from Joann's a few years ago and couldn't decide what to do with them, where to put them, etc. After Jaxon was born I bought a bunch of these sticky alphabet letters - couldn't figure out what to do with them. So I married the two items for Jaxon's room. Jaxon. Adam. Maley.

I like the way a pile of letters look; it reminds me of a pile of freshly raked fall leaves.
I think this would look really nice painted, rather than the cardboard sticky letters, because then you can customize the colors and have fun varying the size of the letters.
It would make a nice gift for a baby shower. Or you can buy a bigger size canvas and spell out your family name at the top and hang it in your living room, entry way, etc.

But if you are looking to use up some scrapbook material this is a cost effective way to do so.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Peppermint popcorn

For our NYE noon party I made peppermint popcorn. I saw it on Pinterest.I LOVED it - actually ate it until my stomach hurt. This will be my new holiday staple - you can bring it as a hostess gift, hand out to neighbors, etc. Plus its an awesome way to utilize those candy canes.

I popped about 4 cups of popcorn. I melted a bag of white chocolate chips and added 8oz of crushed candy canes. Warmed it through and then drizzled over the popcorn.

I had a little bit of the white chocolate-peppermint concoction sitting in the saucepan. I wanted to take a spoon and dive in but instead I added some milk and heated it through. I made some strong coffee and whipped up...yup. White Chocolate Peppermint Mochas. Yummmmm.

NYE Noon party for the boys!

The two older boys know its 2011 so I was really excited about the "noon" party with our neighbor and her 2 kids. We kept it simple: they brought hats and noise makers and I made snacks (White chocolate candy cane popcorn, my Aunt Joan's punch, mac n cheese and store-bought cupcakes).

Of course we missed the actual countdown to noon (by 3 min) BUT we just counted down from ten, turned a bubble machine on and made some noise!