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Spicy Baked Corn Dogs

When I was a kid, my Mom would occasionally fry up some corn dogs made completely from scratch.  Now that I'm a Mom I thought I'd do the same thing for my little one.  That being said, I'm not fond of frying since I manage to burn myself or ruin an article of clothing every time.  Plus baking is a far more healthy method of cooking.

Preheat oven to  425˚

2 boxes Jiffy corn muffin mix, 1 cup flour, 2 eggs, 3/4 cup milk, 1/2 stick melted butter, 1 ½ teaspoons cumin, 1 ½ teaspoons cayenne pepper, 1 ½ teaspoons garlic, paprika, 1 package of 8 hot dogs, 16 popsicle sticks

In a shallow mixing bowl mix together Jiffy mix, flour, eggs milk and melted butter.  The batter will be sticky.  At this point I typically set aside about 1/2 cup to make 2 corn dogs for Ava, this recipe is too spicy for her little taste buds.  Add the cumin, cayenne pepper and garlic.  Mix until the spices are thoroughly blended into the batter.

Cut the corn dogs in half and stick the popsicle stick in half way.  They are much easier to work with half sized.

Spread the batter evenly over each dog.  Don't make them too thick, about a 1/2 inch thick will do nicely.  Try not to leave any of the dog exposed and seal the bottom by the stick.  This will keep the dogs from drying out while they bake.  Sprinkle with paprika and bake for 12 - 15 minutes on the middle rack.

Now you are ready to serve.  You can serve alone or with a dipping sauce of your choice (honey mustard?).  My neighbor, a major meat eater, eyed one cautiously before taking a bite.  On his way out the door, he grabbed a second for his 50 yard walk home.  Don't be discouraged if they crumble a little, the batter is very muffin-like.  You can cover the popsicle sticks with foil if you don't want them to brown.  I don't usually have that kind of time, and I have yet to start a fire... expect that one time at Thanksgiving... story for another time!

Hot & Cool After School Snack: Fluffy Popcorn & Smoothie

Hot extra buttery microwave popcorn used to be one of my favorite snacks, but after reading several articles about how bad it was for you I switched to air popped corn.  The best part is that I've come up with a way to satisfy all 3 sets of taste buds in my house.  Salty for Ava, sweet for me and spicy for Eric.  I pair Ava's with her favorite Strawberry Mango Smoothie and it's enough to hold everyone over until I've cooked dinner.

Fluffy Popcorn: Salty, Sweet & Spicy

INGREDIENTS:  1/2 cup popcorn kernels, 4 tablespoons melted butter, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon white cheddar popcorn seasoning, 1 big bowl for popping and 3 smaller bowls for serving

Begin by popping 1/2 cup of popcorn into a large bowl.  While this is happening melt 4 tablespoons of butter.  Once the popcorn is finished popping, thoroughly coat it with the melted butter.  I recommend using a large flat wooden spoon to turn the popcorn so you don't get your fingers dirty.

Separate the popcorn into your 3 serving bowls, about 4 cups per bowl.  Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt evenly over the popcorn in each bowl and turn to coat.  SALTY is done, set it aside.

The second bowl is going to be SWEET.  Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.  Turn with your wooden spoon to coat thoroughly.  Set aside.

Rinse and dry your spoon and we'll finish up the last bowl, SPICY!  Add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon rosemary and 1/4 teaspoon white cheddar popcorn seasoning.  Turn with your wooden spoon to coat thoroughly.

The sweet and spicy look similar so I recommend using colored bowls so little ones don't get confused.  You're almost ready to serve.

Strawberry Mango Smoothie

INGREDIENTS:  1/2 cup unsweetened frozen strawberries, 1/2 unsweetened frozen mangos, 4 oz. yogurt (2 tubes), 3/4 cup apple juice

Measure strawberries, mangos, yogurt & apple juice into your blending device.  I love my magic bullet.  Be sure not to overfill the cup.

Blend until smooth and now you're ready to serve.

Snack time!  Use a ziploc bag or tupperware to store uneaten popcorn for tomorrow.

The Greatest Love of All

With February being the month of LOVE, I wanted to write an article titled “Taking the Time to Love Yourself”.  The only problem, I couldn't find a scripture to back it up.  I mean really, nowhere in the bible did it talk it about loving myself. It was all about loving others.  So I sat in my bedroom, with all of my bible books, stumped.  How can God expect me to love others when I feel as though I have no love to give?  My cup does not always runneth over. In fact, my cup at times runneth DRY!  And then I came across this…  “If then there is any comfort in Christ, any help given by love, any uniting of hearts in the Spirit, any loving mercies and pity.  Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in harmony and of one mind.  Doing nothing through envy or through pride, but with low thoughts of self, let everyone take others to be better than himself.  Not looking everyone to his private good, but keeping in mind the things of others.  Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus.”  - Philippians 2:1-5

A practical use of this scripture would be to pitch in on an office project that you weren't assigned to.  Not because it looks good on your resume or because the team leader is influential with Senior Management, but because it’s good for the company or for the people impacted by the projects results.  Kindness & compassion are expressions of love.

I was reminded that even when Jesus was broken and His cup was dry, His thoughts were only of love for us.  Dang!  Who are we to be so concerned with ourselves?  That being said, God wants us to be whole.  He wants our spirits to be aligned with our bodies and it’s okay to pray for that.  It’s easier to show kindness and compassion when we're overflowing but, understand, it’s not always going to work that way.

Our character is shown in the face of adversity.   And what better time to showcase God’s love, The Greatest Love of All!

Still Hungry?  Corinthians 13:4-13 and the short book of Ruth are LOVEly.

Stoplight Prayer:  Father in Heaven, thank You for making me whole and showing me how to love those around me.  When my cup is dry, give me the strength to continue showing Your love.

Cheddar Chicken

This is a great child friendly recipe that is also sure to impress the adults at the table.  Seriously who doesn't love cheese & crackers?  

Prep Time is about 30 minutes so it's great for busy Moms, cook time is 35 minutes and it serves 3 adults comfortably.  I recommend serving with your favorite vegetables and cous cous.

Ingredients:

1 package of chicken (3 breasts)

2 gallon sized freezer bags

1 1/2 teaspoons Braggs Amino Acids OR 1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 teaspoons Pinot Grigio Vinegar

1 egg

30 Ritz crackers

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons butter

 

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Trim your chicken and cuts the breasts in half (not filleted) and put them in a gallon sized freezer bag.

3. Add Braggs, vinegar and egg.  Seal the bag and make sure you've squeezed the air out.

4. Squish the marinade thoroughly in the bag.  Using a kitchen mallet, flatten the breasts so that they are about 3/4 of an inch thick and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

5. While the chicken marinades, fill the other plastic zippered bag with Ritz crackers.  Use a rolling pin to turn the crackers into crumbs.  Pour onto a plate, add cheese and toss with fork.

6. Dip each chicken breast into the cracker and cheese mixture and place onto a lightly sprayed pan.  The bottom doesn't need to be thickly coated, just the top.  Sprinkle remaining mixture onto the breasts.

7. Sprinkle minced garlic and pour melted butter across the breasts.

8. Bake for 35 minutes.

Serves 3

On a side note, I usually skip the butter and just spray with a little olive oil to make the crust stick but last night I treated the family to a little extra fat and boy did it go over well.  I believe my husbands response was, "Dang Baby, this is awesome!  What did you do different?"  While there are ways to "health" this recipe up, it sure is fun AS IS!

Practically Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

One of my favorite family Christmas morning traditions was waking up to the smell of fresh Cinnamon Rolls (not unlike the recipe below :).  Several years ago, my mom and her friend packed all of us kids up and took us to the mall where they watched through the glass window at the Cinnabon shop until they learned all the tricks of the trade! Every year after that we've woken up to fresh, gooey, homemade Cinnamon Rolls on Christmas morning. Now THAT makes a home.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup margarine, melted
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
 Directions
  1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start.
  2. After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  4. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

This recipe was taken from All Recipes website. Enjoy!

Refreshing Strawberry Lemonade

This recipe is a fun twist to traditional lemonade and makes it a true thirst-quencher and summertime favorite. Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated organic lemon peel
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed organic lemon juice
  • 1 pint fresh organic strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 2 cups cold sparkling water
  • Ice
  • Whole organic strawberries and sliced lemons for garnish

Method

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.

Add the lemon peel, lemon juice, stir, and remove from the heat.

Let cool completely, then strain into a clean pitcher.

Puree the strawberries in a blender and add to the pitcher with the lemon juice.

Stir well to combine and refrigerate until well chilled.

Add the sparkling water and stir well.

Pour over glasses filled with ice and serve, garnished with mint, lemon slices and strawberries.

Now, grab a good book, snuggle up in a nice cushy chair and enjoy.

Hotcakes for the 4th - Red, White and Blue Cupcakes!

  Happy 4th of July!!! If you're scrambling around trying to find a fun recipe to bring to the BBQ, this Fourth of July Cupcake recipe may be just the thing! Taken from Baking Bites these cupcakes are as cute as they are delicious! Enjoy :)

Fourth of July Cupcakes 2 large eggs 1/2 cup milk (low fat is fine) 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour 3/4 cup sugar 1 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 1 tbsp raspberry or strawberry jam (optional) 1 tbsp blueberry preserves (optional) red food coloring blue food coloring

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vegetable oil, melted butter and vanilla extract until smooth. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk just until batter is smooth. Take out two small bowls and place 3/4 cup batter into each one. Add 1 tbsp jam and red food coloring to first bowl and whisk to incorporate. Add 1 tbsp blueberry preserves and blue food coloring to second bowl and whisk to combine. Add additional food coloring (batter should be very brightly colored, use at least 15 drops of each color minimum) as needed until desired color is reached. Divide red batter evenly into prepared muffin cups. Divide blue batter evenly into muffin cups, centering it on top of the red batter (do not attempt to smooth it out!). Divide remaining white batter evenly (again, do not attempt to smooth it out!). Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cupcake comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting 6-oz cream cheese, room temperature 1/4 cup butter, room temperature 1 1/2-2 cups confectioners’ sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until well-combined.  Gradually add in confectioners’ sugar until the mixture reaches a thick easy-to-spread consistency. If you prefer stiffer icing, add a little extra confectioners’ sugar. Spread on cooled cupcakes.

Gluten-Free, Vegan Vanilla Cupcake with Mocha Frosting

 

For the past few weeks I've been trying my best to go completely gluten-free. I've had the feeling I may have a slight gluten-intolerance for a while now - with headaches, fatigue, and skin problems flaring up when I load up on lots of breads, pastries, and crackers. I've noticed since I've taken gluten out I have more energy, and just feel better all the way around! There is no way I can stick with this though without...cupcakes!!! I found the following recipe on the "Gluten-Free Goddess" blog.

Gluten-Free Vanilla Cupcakes with Mocha Icing- a Vegan Recipe

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cupcake tin with paper or parchment liners

In a mixing bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together:
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup tapioca starch
1 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Add in:
1 cup warm vanilla rice milk or water
1 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer whisked with 1/4 cup warm water (or two large eggs)
3 tablespoons light olive oil
1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon mild tasting rice vinegar or lemon juice

Beat with a mixer until the cake batter is smooth- roughly 2-3 minutes.

*A reminder on gluten-free vegan batters: Gluten-free vegan batters behave a little different. They are often stiffer at first, then get sticky and stretch as the xanthan gum and egg replacer do their vegan g-free thing.

If the batter climbs the beaters, slow down the speed and slightly lift the beaters to encourage the batter to migrate back down into the bowl. Move your beater around the bowl in figure eights, at a slight angle.

Using an ice cream scoop, plop the batter into the twelve liners. Smooth out the tops with wet fingers.

Bake in the center of a preheated oven until firm and dome shaped. For me this took about 18 minutes at sea level but they may take up to 20 to 22 minutes, depending upon your particular oven and altitude.

Cool the pan on a wire rack briefly, then gently pop out the cupcakes and continue cooling on a rack (this avoids steaming the bottoms).

Dairy-Free Mocha Icing Recipe
 
When making frosting, start with a small amount of liquid and add a little bit at a time until you achieve the consistency you want. If the icing gets too runny, add more confectioner's sugar to thicken it. You can also put the icing in the fridge for an hour to stiffen it.

2 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2-3 tablespoons Spectrum Organic Shortening
2 ounces cold coffee, more as needed (or use rice milk if you don't like coffee)
1 teaspoon bourbon vanilla
 
Mmmm...I bet it'd go nicely with this :)
 

Cupcake Wars winning cupcake: The Elvis

  I love The Food Network. There is something about watching people prepare food that just puts me in a good mood! So you can imagine when, "Cupcake Wars", made it's debut I was hooked. Basically, Cupcakes Wars starts with four bakeries who take on different "cupcake challanges"...kind of like a cupcake olympics if you will and one by one the teams are eliminated until one lucky bakery is standing. When I saw the following winning cupcake being assembled I knew I had to share it with my cyber-friends...you!  

This cupcake is a combination of a few of my favorite things...banana, peanut butter, chocolate, and Elvis :). Bake, enjoy, and pass it on!

The Elvis Cupcake

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 extra-large whole eggs
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon banana extract
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 large, overripe banana, mashed
  • Peanut Butter Frosting, recipe follows
  • Chocolate Coating, recipe follows

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line mini cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and yolks, 1 at a time, and then stir in the vanilla and banana extracts. Stir in the vegetable oil. Beat in the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the mashed banana.

Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, 8 to10 minutes. Cool completely, and then frost with Peanut Butter Frosting and dip in Chocolate Coating and enjoy!

Peanut Butter Frosting:

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted sweet cream butter, softened
  • 2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, well sifted
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons cream, as needed

Beat together the butter and peanut butter until smooth and combined. Blend in the powdered sugar. Add the cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the frosting is too thick.

Chocolate Coating:

  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Melt together the chocolate chips and vegetable oil in the microwave until completely melted

Organic Cleaning: how to spring clean your home the chemical-free way

Spring is in the air and while I don't daydream about cleaning I do love a clean, fresh-smelling home! I grew up using several "homemade" cleaning products and in the process saved money, didn't harm the environment, and didn't harm ourselves! All you need is a few key ingredients (most likely already in your pantry) to get you started with greening your cleaning.

Go put on some Beatles, Elvis, or whatever gets you motivated, throw open your windows and have at it! You're home will be smiling in no time!

No-Streak Glass Cleaner 1/4 cup undiluted white vinegar, 1 quart water. Divide into spray bottles. Dry with a sheet of crumpled newspaper or a coffee filter.

Tile and Grout Paste 1 cup water and 3 cups baking soda mixed into a paste works great for cleaning tile and grout. Use a toothbrush to scrub the paste into grout.

Furniture Polish Mix 1 cup lemon juice with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp water; lightly apply to furniture using a soft cloth. Let sit for a couple of minutes, then buff.

All Purpose Surface Cleaner Mix together equal parts white vinegar and salt. Scrub surfaces with a natural cleaning cloth.

Here are a few recommended books with tips on "Green Cleaning" if you're looking to dive deeper:

Mrs. Meyers Clean Home

Green Cleaning

Better Basics for the Home