Chocolate and a Sweater. Summer 2015.

Ah Summer. I love summer. Sundresses and sandals. Long walks on the beach and picnics. Warm nights with a cool breeze and mosquito bites. Salads and meat on the grill.  This may be true where you are right now. Today, I’m in a sweater and muddy sneakers. I mean, it’s warmer in Alaska than it is here.  What’s up Mother Nature?  Who pissed in your Cheerios this month?  We only get 3 months of summer! Get your shit together and give us some sunshine! The up side of this weather rant? There is no snow.

Good news!! Everyone is moving on to the next grade.  Well, with a little help from summer school for the oldest. Now let the childcare games begin! And may the odds be ever in your favor.  I’m going to start petitioning for year round school. Seriously, I have 6 weeks in the middle of summer break covered.  This year, one week prior to camp, and 3 weeks after camp, I will be frantically looking for childcare.  My sister takes her a lot, which is greatly appreciated, but still there is so much running around.  Selfishly, I’m finally in a gym routine.  Not that I’ve lost a single pound, but still the routine is there.  All the running around mucks it all up!  Who has time for all that?

The. Whining. Stops. Now.  Moving on…

On a much brighter note, I helped photograph a wedding last weekend. It was a beautiful wedding.  Yes, it rained. Luckily, all the outside shots were taken before the heavens opened up!  Editing give or take 800 photos is a lot of work. Creatively, it’s a lot of fun. But time consuming!

5861   5948x2

Since I have about 200 more edits to do, I leave you with this.  If you are experiencing any sort of summer and are looking for an easy ice cream treat, this is it.  If you are in need of a chocolate fix, this is perfect.  Triple Chocolate Brownie Bites. We all need a little chocolate now and again, even if you are on the wagon.  That’s the great thing about these babies!  They are small. And super chocolaty.   The original recipe is from Food Network Magazine. The idea is they resemble Snow Caps that you get at the movies, but you eat them at home while watching movies there. They used donut holes not brownies.  Well, I tried the donut holes, and they didn’t work out so well for me.  The mini brownies worked great!  I was, like always, short on time.  I purchased the already-made-for-you-thank-you-Danny-Wegman mini brownies.  Of course, you can always bake your own using your favorite brownie mix and a mini muffin pan.

Triple Chocolate Brownie Bites

  • 1 package Mini Brownies
  • 1/2 gallon Slow Churned reduced calorie chocolate ice cream
  • 1-12oz package semi sweet chocolate chips
  • Nonpareils, optional
  1. Set the ice cream out at room temperature just to soften (about 10 min)
  2. Cut the brownies in half.  Set in freezer for about 10 minutes, just to set a little.
  3. When the brownies are hardened, and the ice cream is soft, spoon about a tablespoon of ice cream on the bottom half of the brownie. Set the top part of the brownie over the ice cream, making a sandwich.
  4. When all the brownies sammies are finished, set in freezer again to set.
  5. Meanwhile, in a double boiler, melt chocolate chips. (I add a tablespoon of shortening in with the melty chips, it just gives it a shine)
  6. When the chips are melted, take the brownie bites out of the freezer; pour over chocolate sandwiches. Tip: if you set the sandwiches on a cooling rack, set cooling rack in a cookie sheet lined with foil, it makes clean up sooooo much easier.
  7. Sprinkle the nonpareils over the top.  Freeze.  Store in an air tight container in the freezer.

browniebites

 

Maybe if you eat one of these fantastical little babies, you will have a hot flash, and need not worry about a sweater!

 

 

Summertime=Salad time!

And ice cream!  I mean, FroYo of course.  Since we are back on the wagon seeking a healthier lifestyle, we {I} don’t really do ice cream anymore. The wagon still has chocolate chip cookies.  End of story. Save your judgement.

Well, today’s post is brought to you courtesy of “wet field conditions”.  No soccer, and no plans for the gym, I thought I’d share what’s up in our little neck of the world.  Hmmm..Nothing really.  Nothing’s up.  School is almost over. Bobby and Autumn did fine, and should be moving on.  I’m not sure Allison is going to see her senior year; bad study habits, lots and lots of excuses and a boyfriend got to her this year.  She’s definitely bought herself a little summer school. I won’t touch upon how parenting factors into this. The ol’ man reads my blog, and probably wouldn’t like it if I did.  All I’m going to say is I find it frustrating.

Ms. Autumn is all signed up for summer recreation.  Summers kind of suck for her.  Ok..well they probably really don’t.  But she doesn’t get to sleep in during the week.  Mama still has to be at work at 8am!  I remember being a kid and sleeping in, eating breakfast and then home promptly at 5pm for dinner, after chores, I didn’t have to be home until the street lights came on.  Between breakfast and 5pm? Crazy chaos all over the neighborhood!  I’m kidding of course.  I mean, there were lazy days, and days I stayed inside, days I laid out in the sun slathered in baby oil. (GASP!!  Simmer down Millennials. It was the early 80’s and skin cancer wasn’t a “thing” yet. Besides, I had an older sister who made tanning seem soooo awesome!)  By the end of July, I was bored, and was ready for summer to be over.  However, I started babysitting in the summers at 11 years old. My childhood hell-raising ended at 11.  Autumn on the other hand, is 10 years old in the year 2015.  She goes to the local recreation for 6 weeks. Field trips and swimming are the extent of her daytime hell-raising.  It’s all I can handle.

Enough of my boring life. Let’s talk salad! I’m not sure that’s any more exciting….Anyway, no one likes to eat heavy in summer; unless it’s meat smothered delicious BBQ sauce.  I love Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey sauce.  I could drink that shit straight from the bottle. FOCUS: SALAD. This recipe is from another blog, Green Valley Kitchen.  It was floating around Facebook and I thought it looked fantastical.  I’ve made a similar version in the past, so I did change their recipe just a little, as with most of the recipes I post. My kids are so damn fussy. Have to keep the buggers happy. Ish.  Happyish. I switched out the Feta cheese for mozzarella. And I added extra onions.  I love onions and I didn’t feel like kissing the ol’ man.

Tomato, Cucumber, Avocado Salad (with a Little change)

  • 1 ½ C Chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced. (I just used an English cuke)
  • 1 Avocado, diced
  • 4 oz Mozzarella cheese, cubed small
  • 2 Tbsp Red onion (2 Tbsp or so..you know..at your discretion)
  • 2 Tbsp Parsley, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Red wine vinegar
  • 8 Twists of black pepper from a pepper mill
  1. Chop tomatoes into a medium dice.  If using cherry tomatoes, (which I did because it’s easier) cut in half. Add to bowl.
  2. Peel and seed one cucumber and dice.  Add to bowl
  3. Remove pit, dice avocado and using a spoon, scoop out the avocado from the peel.  Add to bowl.
  4. Cube cheese, add to bowl
  5. Add minced onion and parsley to bowl.
  6. Whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, and black pepper, pour over salad.
  7. Toss gently so the avocado doesn’t break up.  Serve immediately.
  8. If refrigerating, keep the avocado aside and add before serving.

Tomatosalad

 

Off to surf Pinterest for inexpensive, yet cute teacher’s gifts!

I give apologies in the form of Shrimp!

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder.  So at this point, you guys must really, really heart me!!  I do sincerely apologize for my absence. I seem to be having some time management issues.  I’ve been hitting the gym 4 nights a week and trying to focus on a healthier lifestyle and it’s quite time consuming.  Apparently, I can’t work 40+ hours a week, workout 4-5 times a week, get 7 hours of sleep a night, spend time with my family, research for my blog, promote the blog and actually blog all at the same time. And let’s not forget, cleaning, grocery shopping and soccer. I’ve also been photographing more than just food, which I’ve really come to enjoy.

Ms. Autumn had the band concert the other night.  It was um..not exactly the RPO, but they did great.  She was actually invited to play a piece with the advanced band.  She’s been busy with soccer, band and a boyfriend. Oh yes, I said it. Boyfriend. At 10.  This is the next parenting challenge, as she knows boyfriends are not allowed until high school. Or ever. But right now it’s high school. What is worse, is she’s lying to me about it. This is another post for another time.  After I’ve figured out what to do with it.  Feel free to email if you have any suggestions as to what to do. If I push too much about the boyfriend, she will not only continue to do it, she will be sneaky about it forever.  If I don’t do anything, I will be one of those parents that “didn’t do anything” to control her kid.

On to the good stuff!!  As previously mentioned, I’ve been scouting around for healthier, family friendly recipes.  I found this one in Cooking Light. I’ve made this twice.  Three out of three kids liked it. The first time, I followed the recipe to the letter (minus the celery, cause I’m allergic, I just doubled up the cukes).  It was delicious.  The second time, I used less Sriracha, and used frozen, already cooked and deveined shrimp.  Thaw it out, and it was just as good as using fresh, and it saved time. I’m carb watching, so I didn’t used a bun for mine, I put it over avocado.  OMG….soooo good!

Sriracha Shrimp Rolls

  • 4 Cups Water
  • 1 lb peeled and deveined medium shrimp
  • 1/4 C Canola mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha
  • 1/4 C Finely chopped celery
  • 1/4 C Finely chopped English cucumber
  • 4 tsp chopped fresh Cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp Fresh lime juice
  • 2 Green onions, chopped
  • 4 New England-style top-split hot dog rolls
  • 5 tsp Butter, melted
  1. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat.  Add shrimp; cook 2 minutes or until done. Drain. Rinse under cold water; drain well. Discard tail shells; coarsely chop shrimp.
  2. Combine mayonnaise, Sriracha, celery, cucumber, cilantro, lime juice and green onions in a large bowl.  Toss in shrimp, coat well.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Brush cut sides of each hot dog roll evenly with butter. Add rolls to pan. Cook until lightly toasted and golden brown. Fill each toasted roll with about 3/4C shrimp mixture.

srirachashrimp

 

National Spinach Day?

I quit cold turkey. It’s been 4 days.  Four. Cuatro. Quatre.  It’s been four days without a single chocolate chip.  It may not seem like a lot to you, but to me?  Oh, stop with your eye roll, you judgmental bastard!  I realize there are bigger real world problems out there. But, seriously, I’m ready to punch someone in the throat.  Like the ol’ man perhaps? He had the nerve to buy Chips Ahoy! cookies, without the decency to hide them from me. Asshole.  Testing my will power is not love.  It’s torture. I have plenty of internal struggles with “eat or not to eat”. Don’t make it worse by teasing me with the goods! When it comes to chocolate chips or chocolate chip cookies, I have ZERO control. Cake? Pie? Ice cream? Chips?  I can say no to it all.  Having chocolate chips or any of their accomplices is like stocking up the liquor cabinet with alcoholic in the house.  I. Will. Not. Break. Down.

Enough of my whining.  Rumor has it that tomorrow is National Spinach Day.  I’m not entirely sure why we need a National Day for Spinach, but we do.  Luckily for spinach, it’s delicious.  And Popeye seems to like it, so I guess it’s worthy.  Since I’m Striving for 5 and all that fun stuff, (Go Team Go!) Campbell’s has a fantastical spinach and mushroom frittata that I made a while ago.  Easy, and the kids like it. Well, 2 of them did. I will give you a penny and a half if you can guess which one didn’t.  Heaven forbid they saw the microscopic mushrooms in it. This would make a great Easter brunch recipe! Just don’t tell the kids there are mushrooms. Or Spinach. Nevermind.  Serve it at the adult table.  Or call it just a Frittata.  It’s all in how you spin it!

Spinach and Mushroom Frittata 

  • 10 Eggs
  • 1 Can cream of mushroom soup (used the 10¾ oz size of 98% fat free)
  • 1-10 oz pkg Frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 1.5 C Shredded Swiss (honestly I probably used closer to 2 C, since ya know, I used almost fat free soup, lol my logic kills me)
  • 1/2 tsp Ground black pepper
  1. Heat oven to 375°F.  Spray a 12x8x2 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl with a whisk, beat the eggs.  Stir in the soup, spinach and 1 cup (or so) of the cheese and black pepper.
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes or until the eggs are set in the center.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  Let stand for about 5 minutes until the cheese melts.
  5. If you make this the day before, refrigerate until you are ready to use.  Let it sit out for 30 minutes to get to room temperature.  Then reheat in a 350°F oven for about 20 minutes.

spinach frittata

I’m changing the name to Shrimp Piccata!

It is almost Friday.  It. Is. Almost. Friday. I’m gonna slap a big WOOOO HOOO on that. Truly, it’s been a very long week.  On the bright side, the  sun was out today; cold, but the sun was out!  It’s almost like you can actually almost see Spring around the corner.  Then the weather comes on and the pretty boy in the suit says “Snow next week”.  And you want to punch his pretty face. Ok, ok, so it is upstate New York, and fine, it is only mid-March.  Yes, I know snow is still to be expected until April. UGH, fine!  I will leave his pretty face alone 😉

I think I mentioned a few posts back that I’m the team leader for the Eat Well, Live Well challenge.  That has really thrown me into the “let’s be super healthy until I get discouraged” mood.  I’m back on MyFitness Pal, logging everything I eat.  I purchased a Fitbit. I’m down to a handful or two of chocolate chips a day. And yes, I’m logging those too. I’m in no way a paid person for Fitbit, (unless of course they want to throw a lil’ somethin’ somethin’ my way), but I have to say, the thing is nifty.  In general, technology blows my mind.  Computers? Tablets? Fax machines?  All magic. This Fitbit? Serious magic.  It knows things.  Things that I don’t think it really should know. Quite frankly, it creeps me out just a little.

The one thing it doesn’t know?  How many carbs are being consumed!  I aim for high protein options and I strive for 5 and all that jazz. Every now and again though, I come across a pasta recipe that strikes my fancy.  This pasta recipe from Rachael Ray was one of them.  It was 2 out of 3 kid approved, and the ol’ man loved it. Guess which kid wouldn’t even try it?  Come on…Guess.  I’ll give you a penny if you get it right! She calls it “Pasta Piccata”.  I called it Shrimp Piccata.  It really highlights the shrimp.  Pasta is just pasta.

Shrimp Piccata

  • 2 Cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 6 Tbsp Butter
  • 3/4 C  Chicken stock
  • 1/3 C Capers
  • 3 Tbsp Fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 lb  Shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 10 oz. Linguine, cooked and drained
  • 1/4 C Parsley
  1. In skillet, cook garlic in butter over medium heat, for 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in chicken stock, capers, fresh lemon juice, and lemon zest. Simmer 2 minutes.
  3. Add shrimp; cook 4 minutes (or until done)
  4. Toss with pasta and parsley.

 

shrimppiccata

 

Easy! This week… easy is needed!

I have exactly 20 minutes to get my post up! I’m on a time schedule. I’m trying to stay on a planned schedule, but it’s not going so well this week.   Everything was planned, the gym, blog posts, the menu.  Then the ol’ man’s mom had to have unexpected open heart surgery yesterday. Poor thing ended up with a quadruple bypass. She’s off the ventilator and awake; which is fantastical for just 24 hours after surgery. Ironically, 16 years ago today, my dad died, essentially after the same surgery. It kinda sucked being in the same hospital, the same unit, the same everything.  The good thing, if there is a good thing, is that I was able to give the ol’ man some insight as to what will happen. Like when we saw her right after surgery, she had a little bit of color.  I thought she looked good! You know, good for someone who just had their chest cracked open. My dad looked gray and dead.  The smart ass he is, said “We are Italian, of course she has color!”  Point made lol.

Needless to say, I needed easy this week.  Nothing easier than the slow cooker, and since I neglected slow cooker Sunday for you, I’m giving it to you now. Easter is coming, and you undoubtedly will have leftover ham. This Pillsbury recipe is perfect!  As always, I changed it a little. On the kid scale, 2 out of 3 liked it.  I will give you a penny if you can figure out which one didn’t like it!

Cheesy Ham Au Gratin

  • 3C Milk
  • 1 Can condensed Cheddar cheese soup (10 3/4oz can)
  • 2- 5 oz pkgs cheesy scalloped potatoes, with skin on potatoes (I didn’t used the skin on)
  • 2 C Cooked diced ham
  • 2 Cans Whole kernel corn, with Red and green peppers, drained (I used a frozen bag of corn and peppers)
  • 2 C boiling water
  • Cheddar cheese (optional)
  1. Spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.  In a large bowl, combine milk, soup, and contents of seasoning packets from potatoes; blend well.  Add potatoes, ham and corn; mix well.  Pour mixture into sprayed slow cooker.  Pour boiling water over potato mixture; stir to mix.
  2. Cover; cook on low setting for 7 to 8 hours.
  3. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

hamaugratin

Peanut Butter Cookie Lasagna-Just following the crowd!

Happy March!!  Whoo Hoo!!  We are on the upswing of this miserable winter.  Here in upstate NY we are starting March like a lion.  Snow, Ice, Rain, Snow, repeat.  Effing winter.  At least we, all fingers crossed, will go out like a lamb!

Proud Mommy moment!  Ms. Autumn has been asked to participate in the NYS Solo Festival with her French horn. I’m not too sure what it all means, other than that judges get to listen to her mimic the dying moose and judge her on it. Not a job I would want, but whatev.  WAIT!!!  We get that job every night for 20 minutes.  Of course, I’m kidding about the dying moose. Sort of.  It’s getting better. *insert eye roll* At least she’s practicing!

alexander (2)
Photo courtesy of Mrs. Fabrizio

 

 

Well, today is National Pancake Day.  I didn’t even make pancakes for dinner! I’m a slacker today as a mother. But Sunday was National Peanut Butter Lovers Day.  As a good mother should, I frantically surfed Pinterest for a good peanut butter recipe to make and ya know, throw it up on the blog if it tasted good.  I was in search of a chicken with a peanut sauce sort of recipe. Like a satay or something. I didn’t get very far. All over Pinterest and Facebook for that matter, is this Peanut Butter Cookie Lasagna. As any good PMSing mother should do, I abandoned the healthy chicken search and settled on this.  The recipe I looked at was from Hugs and Cookies.  I altered it slightly, and if it were up to Ms. Autumn, it would have been altered a bit more.  She thought it needed more chocolate, and more chocolate cups.  I told her the recipe was highlighting peanut butter not chocolate.  She wasn’t impressed with my answer.

Peanut Butter Cookie Lasagna

  • 1 Box Nutter Butter cookies
  • Cool Whip (the small container worked fine)
  • Miniature peanut butter cups, roughly chopped (the more, the better according to Ms. Autumn)
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter, melted in the microwave (do not over do! It will burn 🙂 )
  • 1 Box instant vanilla pudding (I used the large box), made according to the box directions
  1. Line the bottom of an 8×8 pan with Nutter Butter cookies
  2. Top with a drizzle of the melted peanut butter (“drizzle” is interpreted differently for everyone! just sayin’)
  3. Add 1/2 the pudding
  4. Add 1/2 the Cool Whip
  5. Top with chopped peanut butter cups
  6. Repeat the layering
  7. Decorate the top with peanut butter cups, crushed nutter butter cookies and a drizzle of peanut butter (and melted chocolate according to Ms. Autumn)

cookielas

 

I brought the leftovers in to work.  If it were left at home, I personally would have eaten the entire pan.  As it was, Bobby called me a demon for bringing it in to work. I’m fairly certain he would have tried to eat the rest himself.  At work, I think it lasted a whole 5 minutes before it was gone. Really, it’s that good. Next week, we start the Eat Well, Live Well project at work.  I am the team leader.  With recipes like this, I’m leading my team straight to Hell. I really should have looked for that chicken recipe.

Fat Tuesday=Double time Wednesday!

Hurricanes and Gumbo!!  It’s Fat Tuesday, baby!! Sadly, I didn’t have a Hurricane, but I sure did have some gumbo! We had a little Mardi Gras party at work.  Definitely the highlight of the past few weeks.  From the Louisiana Breakfast Hash  to the Gumbo it all lived up to it’s name.  Except for the salad.  There was no fat in the salad.  Um, I didn’t have any salad.  I must do double time at the gym tomorrow.  Especially since I made….wait for it…wait for it..Red Velvet Oreo Balls.  It’s a good thing I’m the Wellness Champion for the department. Hey!  It’s not my fault they call it “Fat Tuesday”!

Red Velvet Oreo Balls

  • 36 Red Velvet Oreos
  • 1-8oz pkg Cream cheese, softened
  • White Chocolate Chips, melted
  1. In a food processor, finely crush Oreos, pour into a large bowl.
  2. Add cream cheese and mix until blended.
  3. Roll into 1-inch balls.  Freeze 10 minutes.
  4. Dip into melted chocolate, place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.
  5. Refrigerate 1 hour, or until firm.

redvelvet

Warning: These are addicting.  I think more addicting than regular Oreo balls.  Proceed with caution, or plan on extra time at the gym.

On a completely separate note, we have caught up with Grimm; life as I know it can resume again.

 

Slow Cooker Sunday!-Beef Barley Soup

Holiday season is over. Valentine’s is over. Football is over……Wake me up in April. Seriously, I’ve added enough insulation to get me through until then.  Wait!!!  Fat Tuesday is coming.  Let me add another layer of gumbo and hurricanes.  Then hibernation begins!!  If I could I totally would. I’m kidding of course. Sort of.

How was everyone’s Valentine’s day?  I spent the day with the kids. I made pink pancakes for breakfast.  The ol’ man went to a movie with a friend who lost his wife a few years ago. We’ll hit the movies next weekend, when they aren’t so crowded; and you know how I feel about restaurants on Valentine’s.  I made mini chicken and waffles for all of us.  Doesn’t that scream romance!  I made something without vegetables in it.  The kids think that’s love. Win for Mom!

Mini Chicken and waffles!  No real recipe here.  I mean, you totally could make homemade waffles, and bread the chicken yourself.  I make this when we are running from work to soccer to the grocery store, ‘Oh shit it’s 7:30pm already’ what am I going to make for dinner?  Eggo mini waffles, and chicken strips.  Bake the chicken strips according to the directions on the package, pop the mini waffles in the toaster. I cut the strips in half, make a little sandwich, spear with a tooth pick to hold them together, drizzle with maple syrup.

minichickwaf

 

So parenting challenge #14,864?  The 16yo wants to read 50 Shades of Grey. Some of you are thinking, where’s the parenting challenge? The answer is no. She’s 16, are you out of your mind? The ol’ man did say no.  But I’m not entirely against it.  I know I’m not going to make a lot of friends with my opinion of 50 Shades, so I’m going to just touch on it a little. She has friends who have read it.  She reads books from the “romance” section already. I mean she is 16,  I’ve played Cards Against Humanity with her, so I know not a whole lot in the series is going to be shocking to her. Ok, so there may be a little shock. I’m impressed that she even asked at all.  Easily, she could have purchased it to her tablet, and we would never know.  She didn’t ask permission to smoke her first cigarette, or do shots of cake batter vodka. Proof that she’s unsure why it’s wrong. I’m not entirely sure I disagree with her. I lived that lifestyle for a few years before I met the ol’ man, who is very vanilla. So I feel like if she reads it, we know she’s reading it, when she has questions she can ask, and we {I} can answer them. Real answers. If she reads it behind our back, she will ask her friends questions and goodness knows what the hell they will answer with. Part of me feels like 50 Shades is romanticizing S&M; just like Pretty Woman did for prostitution.  The reality of the lifestyles just isn’t as black and white has Hollywood and fiction makes it out to be. Probably one of the best things about fiction. Bottom line, I told her if I got written permission from her mom that it’s alright for her to read them, then she can borrow the books. She can duke it out with her father.

On to things that will get me in less trouble! Slow Cooker Sunday!  Today, in our -25°F, snowy weather, nothing sounds better than Beef and Barley Soup!  Straight from Betty Crocker 🙂 The kids liked it, although 2 of the 3 thought there was too many vegetables, and not enough beef.  Damn carnivores!

Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup

  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 Medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 C)
  • 2 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 2 lbs Beef boneless chuck, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Pepper
  • 2 Medium carrots, cut lengthwise in half, then cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 1 C Pearl barley, uncooked
  • 8 C Beef broth
  • 1.5 C frozen sweet peas
  • 1 C frozen corn
  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook onion, garlic, beef, salt and pepper in oil until beef is brown, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Spoon beef mixture into 6-quart slow cooker.  Stir in carrots, barley and broth.
  3. Cover and cook on low heat for 8-9 hours.
  4. Increase heat to high. Stir in frozen peas and corn. Cover and cook 8-10 minutes or until peas and corn are hot.

beefbarleysoup

 

 

 

Peppermint Mousse Cups

I know, I know..a post 2 days in a row.  What?  What’s going on here? Crazy, right?!  I really wanted to get this Peppermint mousse recipe out to you since there’s only three days until 50 Shades of Grey is released. Um.. I mean until Valentine’s Day!  This would be super cute to do with the kids or bring to a Valentine’s Party at work.  And since I have every intention on going to the gym tomorrow night, here I am 🙂  In general, I don’t watch television. I do make time for Vampire Diaries on Thursday nights. The ol’ man just got me hooked on Grimm. I think he’s a jerk for doing that.  Now I’m frantically trying to catch up. We just started Season 3, and Season 4 is on the tv now; it’s a little frustrating.  The point here, as I’m sure you are wondering, is the time I would have normally made time to try to get to the gym, is spent watching Nick the hottie on Grimm.  🙂

This little treat is perfect for Valentine’s Day. Or any day really. Pillsbury had this recipe in one of their Christmas books from like 2007.  If you want to make your own chocolate shells, you can it’s pretty simple. I totally took the easy way out and bought them at the store.

Peppermint Mousse Cups

  • 1.5 C Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C White vanilla baking chips
  • 1 C Whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp Peppermint extract
  • 2 drops Red food color
  • Colored sugar or crushed peppermints
  1. Line 24 mini muffin cups with petit four paper cups. In a small sauce pan, melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips over low heat, stirring frequently. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of the chocolate into each paper cup.  With the back of a small measuring spoon, spread the chocolate up sides to within 1/8″ of the top.  Chocolate should be warm enough to spread. Refrigerate about 20 minutes or until completely set. (Or go to the store and purchase them!)
  2. In a small microwavable bowl, microwave the vanilla baking chips uncovered on high 1 minute.  Stir in 3 tablespoons of the whipping cream; microwave about 30 seconds longer or until the chips are completely melted. Stir in peppermint extract and food color.  Cool slightly.
  3. Carefully remove paper cups from chocolate cups.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat remaining whipping cream with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold melted vanilla chip mixture into whipped cream. Spoon or pipe whipped cream mixture into chocolate cups. Refrigerate until serving.  Just before serving, sprinkle with candy.

Peppmintcups