Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Have Yourself a Yummy Little Christmas

'Tis the season for making, giving away, and eating Christmas goodies. Emphasis on the eating. Sooooo much eating going on here. I make a lot of different treats during the holidays, but my top three favorites are: candied almonds, marshmallow popcorn, and candy coated pretzels. These sweeties are so good, my neighbors, quite frankly, are lucky that we share ;)

Candied Almonds

(These are 10,000 times better than the ones you get at the mall... so good you'll never buy the hard-as-a-rock ones ever again... no matter how good they smell.)

1 cup water
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 lbs almonds, with skins

Bring water, sugar and cinnamon to a boil in a large skillet, stirring constantly.
Add almonds and toss to coat.
Remove almonds with slotted spoon. Do not discard extra syrup.
Arrange on a large baking pan sprayed liberally with cooking spray.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, basting & stirring twice (at the 10 & 20 minute mark) with reserved syrup. Cool before eating (I'm not joking... wait!! You'll want to eat one right away. Resist the temptation. You WILL burn your tongue. Don't ask me how I know this).

Marshmallow Popcorn (Recipe from my Sis Debbie)

(Make this highly addicting popcorn at your own risk. It's just so good... I ate it for breakfast this morning. Don't judge).

2 bags plain microwave popcorn, popped (un-popped kernels removed... I make my plain popcorn using the brown bag popping method... try it, it costs pennies, and it really works!)
1/4 c butter, melted
7oz jar marshmallow creme
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 t salt
Food coloring (optional)
Nonpareil sprinkles (optional)

Place popped popcorn in large mixing bowl. Melt butter in separate bowl, add marshmallow, microwave 30 seconds. Add vanilla and salt. Add food coloring if you'd like. Mix well. Drizzle over popcorn & mix carefully, evenly coating the popcorn. Spread out on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray or lined with kitchen parchment. Put in 250 degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring once after 15 minutes. Add sprinkles directly upon removing from oven if you so desire. Cool, and break into pieces before serving. Store airtight. I doubt you'll have any leftover though... the snitching that goes on at my house makes it necessary for me to make 3 batches, and that's still not enough. 

Candy Coated Pretzels

(Okay, this isn't really a recipe... I feel slightly silly even putting directions for these on here... But maybe there's someone out there in cyberspace who doesn't know how to make candy coated pretzels, and we can't have that. My mom made ccp's every Christmas for our neighbors... making them always reminds me of her.)

1 lb Almond Bark
Pretzels (rods or twists)

Melt almond bark in the microwave for 20 second intervals (stirring between) until smooth. Dip pretzels, and place on cookie sheet lined with kitchen parchment. Top with sprinkles immediately. Place dipped pretzels in refrigerator for 10 minutes to set up. You can let them set up on the counter, but that takes longer, and you won't get to eat them as soon.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas. Much love,

Becky :)

Friday, October 30, 2015

Pretzel Dogs (aka: Yummy Mummy Fingers)

When homemade pretzel dogs show up on the menu board in my kitchen, there is much rejoicing. Once you try these delicious darlings, you will never go back to eating those overpriced, overcooked, heat lamp tragedies from the mall food court again. Yes, they are that good. Because this recipe heats up the kitchen quite a bit, pretzel dogs have become more of a Fall/Winter treat for my family. Our favorite time to make them is Halloween... Yummy mummy fingers :) Enjoy!

Pretzel Dogs

8 Tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons yeast
3 1/2 cups flour
8 hot dogs
1/4 cup melted butter
Kosher salt

Melt butter in a saucepan.
Add milk and heat until it reaches 115 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Pour into a large mixing bowl or Kitchen Aid with dough hook attached.
Add sugar and yeast.  Let sit until dissolved. 
Mix in flour, knead until soft and elastic. 
Roll pieces into long strips & wrap around hot dog (I prefer Ball Park all beef). Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise 30 minutes.
Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with kosher salt. 
Bake @ 475 degrees for 10 minutes. (Do not undercook... they should be nice & browned.)
Makes 8 pretzel dogs, with enough leftover dough to make a couple regular soft pretzels. (Cook soft pretzels for 5 minutes.)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Apple Crunch Muffins

Thought I'd post my Apple Crunch Muffin recipe today really quick. I slept in (I heart you Fall Break), so it's a little late in the day to call this Muffin Saturday Morning... How's about you make them for Saturday Night Breakfast instead :) This is a lovely Autumn recipe featuring apples, cinnamon, and nuts. My house smells like heaven... I'd invite you over, but my kitchen is a wreck. Because I'm blogging instead of cleaning. I'm also still in pajamas... Did I mention I heart Fall Break? 

Apple Crunch Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 cup tart apple (Apples need to be washed and cored. Shred the unpeeled apples for recipe.)
Nut crunch topping

1.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into mixing bowl.
2.  Cut in shortening with pastry blender until fine crumbs form.
3.  Combine egg and milk.
4.  Add to dry ingredients all at once, stirring just enough to moisten.
5.  Stir in apples.
6.  Spoon batter into greased muffin-pan cups, filling 2/3 full.
7.  Sprinkle with nut crunch topping.
8.  Bake in 375 degree oven 15 minutes or until golden brown.
9.  Serve hot 

NUT CRUNCH TOPPING: Mix together 1/4 c brown sugar, 1/4 c chopped pecans or almonds and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in small bowl.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins

Muffin Saturday Mornings are still going strong in my home... See original post here. Double chocolate banana muffins are hands down our favorite. These beauties are the bomb. No, really. They are calorie bombs... nothing remotely healthy here. It's a glorified cupcake for breakfast. Don't let the banana and lack of frosting fool you. If you're not afraid of a little splurge, pin this recipe. You'll thank me. Hopefully.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/3 cups mashed ripe bananas
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In a small bowl, combine bananas, oil and egg. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill greased muffin cups two thirds full. Bake at 350° F for 20-25 minutes or until muffins test done. Makes 18 muffins.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sweet & Sour Chicken with Ham Fried Rice

Let me introduce my favorite homemade meal of all time: (Ok, one of my favorites. I have a LOT of favorites.) Sweet & Sour Chicken with Ham Fried Rice... It brings me joy. I personally like this recipe a lot more than it's take out counterpart. I'm not gonna lie, the time it takes to prepare is slightly daunting (90 minutes give or take), but soooo worth it. If you're up for a rewarding evening of cooking and eating, give this baby a try! 

Sweet & Sour Chicken (recipe from my super chef sis-in-law, Heidi Humphries)

2-3 chicken breasts cut into one inch cubes or strips
3/4 cup flour mixed with 3/4 cup cornstarch in a large Ziploc bag
4 - 5 eggs, beaten well in a large bowl
Canola oil for frying
Sweet and Sour sauce (below)

Add the cut up chicken to the flour mixture and toss to coat. Heat the oil until a small test piece of chicken immediately bubbles. Set up an assembly line: bag of chicken, bowl of egg, frying oil. Cook the chicken in batches by dipping each piece of chicken in egg and frying until golden and cooked most of the way through. Drain on paper towels and place in a 9 x 13 pan in a single layer but slightly overlapped. Pour the sweet and sour sauce over chicken and bake in a 375 degree oven until bubbly, about 35 - 45 minutes. If you have a ton of meat, you may choose to double the sauce (I like to have extra sauce, so I always double it). It won't really change anything but the cooking time because it may take longer to get all bubbly.  

Sweet and Sour sauce

3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vinegar (apple cider is best...white is much too strong)
1/4 cup chicken broth
3 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 - 2 Tbsp. cornstarch, mixed with water

Combine everything but cornstarch in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until it just starts to boil. Add cornstarch mixture a little at a time and cook until thickened to gravy consistency. 

Ham Fried Rice

4 Tbsp. butter 
Ham, about 3/4 cup finely diced (or more if you like) 
Cold rice, about 3 - 4 cups
Garlic powder 
Onion powder
Salt and pepper
Soy sauce
3 - 4 eggs, beaten with a little water

Melt the butter in a large pot. Sauté the ham over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add the rice and if it looks dry you can add a little more butter. Sprinkle with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper and stir really well. Pour in soy sauce a little at a time until it starts to look like restaurant fried rice, kind of golden. (Taste as you go... you want to make sure you don't add too much.) In a separate pan cook up the eggs until they are mostly scrambled, but runny. Add them to the rice and stir gently. Let it all sauté for a few more minutes until the egg is cooked.  

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Liebster Award? Well, Thank You! Thank You Very Much!

It's been a while since I blogged. 454 days to be exact. I've had a rough year. Haven't felt much like sharing anything... especially humor. That has to change. The masses need to laugh, and they need to do it while baking muffins. My best friend Candace nominated my blog for the Liebster Award, and I'm really grateful. She was inspired as usual. This is the kick in the butt I needed.

The Liebster award is passed friend to friend, blogger to blogger, to those whom have in some way influenced your character, changed the way you think or feel, and/or let your mind fill with inspirational MAGIC! And to help introduce other readers, writers, or authors to share in the fun.  

The rules:

1. Acknowledge you belong in the blogging community, and that you ROCK! 

2. Nominate influential bloggers that you have admired, read, love, and let the world know it!

3. Give these lovely people a few questions.

4. Answer said questions.

5. Watch the world ignite with excitement.  Share!

There you have it... Hopefully I can do this justice. Who am I kidding? I'm going to answer the majority of these questions facetiously, and I'm going to be brief, because simply put, it's the kind of mood I'm in. Here are the questions Candace asked me:

1. Who has been a constant in your life, making you the person you are today?

My library card. I got him when I was eight years old. Library card has always been there for me. He's introduced me to literally thousands of characters, and I most assuredly wouldn't be the brilliant person I am today without him. Thanks for bringing the two of us together Mom.

2. What song would play at the quintessential part of your own movie?

"We Close Our Eyes" by Oingo Boingo. Except that Psych just used it for their quintessential moment. I really wish they hadn't done that. Season seven was just awful. So bad. Jump the Shark much? I digress. My second choice would be "How Soon is Now" by The Smiths... but only if my life continues in it's current depressing spiral.

3. List three literary characters that best represent you, or wish you had created.

David Copperfield. Big surprise. I adore his character more than any other because he taught me that it doesn't matter what circumstance I'm in, I can always do my best.

Harry Potter. He best represents me because people are in awe of him for being this super great wizard, and he's like "I'm just Harry." I can relate to that sometimes. I'm not saying that to be braggy. I'm merely pointing out that I don't always feel as super great as you perceive me to be. I have some major self esteem issues. Working on that.

Corrie ten Boom. Ok, I know she's not a fictional character, but dang. She was an amazing woman. I can't remember the last time I was so touched by someone's life story.

4. How do you inspire those around you?

See my above comment about David Copperfield... "My meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely; that in great aims and in small, I have always been thoroughly in earnest."

Hmmmm. That'd be a great name for a blog.

5. What is the tagline for the book of your life?

I have literally sat here for an hour trying to think of something clever to say. I've got nothing. Zippo. Candace, I hereby bequeath this mammoth task to you. I figure you might as well write my tagline since you'll be the one penning the story of my life someday. Would you please make sure they give me a brilliant British accent when they make the movie adaption? Also, hidden magical powers. Thanks in advance. 

I nominate the following lovely people. Their online presence puts mine to shame:

Heather Morrison - Heather's devotion to her family & staying on top of their personal history is inspiring to me! 

Joy Candrian - Joy is creativity personified. I really admire her crafting & Grandmothering skills! She also reads like crazy... I really love that :)

Michelle Michelle's gazillion online recipes make my twelve recipes look like... well twelve recipes. She's amazing, and I envy her Pinterest fame!

Angela Angela manages her ten children with much more grace and humor than I do my with my five, and she still finds time to keep up a wonderful family blog. 

Here are my questions for you my nominated friends:

1. What is one book that you go back to again, and again? Your literary comfort food?

2. Which actress would you want to play you in a movie about your life? What actor would play your significant other?

3. How has social media affected your life? Could you live without it?

4. List your top five pet peeves. Being nominated for stuff like this can't be one of them ;)

5. Do you wish on stars? If yes, why? If no, why the heavens not? It totally works.

Thanks again Candace, for the honor of being nominated. More importantly though, for the honor of being best friends with one of THE cleverest people on the planet. I love you goopy girl :) Visit Candace's blog at: