Saturday, June 30, 2012

Challenge 20-Nutella Fudge Popsicles (or how a fail can still be a win)

I cannot believe that is has taken me 20 Pinterest experiments to finally try one using the wonderful, amazing, delicious, true nectar of the Gods...NUTELLA. I figure my will power has been turned up to 11 to have gone this long, not to mention and the amount of Nutella is minimal (compared to other recipes I have pinned). You'll need 3 ingredients: 1/2 cup of milk (any type, I used 1% because it's what we keep in the house), 1 cup of Cool Whip (I used Target brand and light), and 3 tablespoons Nutella.
You will also need a blending device (I have a Ninja system) and ice pop molds. Put all of the ingredients in the blending device and mix together until it looks like the consistency of thick chocolate milk. Pour the mix into your ice pop mold and put them in the freezer. My mold holds eight small sized pops and I had a little mix left after I filled them all up.
I put them in the freezer around 11:00am and didn't touch them again until 8:30pm. Now I could blame the Dollar Tree ice pop molds for what happens next but I reserve judgment until I test them with real ice pops. I took them out of the freezer, gave them a little time to thaw and tried to pull them out and surprise the holder came out but the fudge pop stayed right where it was. I'm not sure what type of ice pop mold the original pinner used, but it certainly wasn't these.
Now normally I would consider this process a Pinterest fail, however one thing keeps this from being a total failure-They are delicious (which you can tell from the picture after I had taste tested the one on the top left) They taste a bit like chocolate gelato but you still get a hint of the hazelnut from the Nutella. They are very light and fluffy and just wonderful.

I did a rough estimate on calories and the whole mixture was around 575 calories, which was all eight pops plus a little extra. Next time I will just make the mix and put in in a bowl in the freezer so I wouldn't have to eat them with a butter knife like I had to with this batch. They may work better with some type of silicon ice pop apparatus, and I would love to know if anyone got these to come out in ice pop form. However, it is no matter since they are delicious and it will be a struggle to keep me and my butter knife out of the freezer for the next few days.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Challenge 19- Greek Yogurt Covered Frozen Blueberries-Great in theory, in practice that depends on you.

I like pins that are easy, take few ingredients, and are healthy. This pin was all three so I knew it was going to have to part of my challenge, especially when blueberries have finally become reasonably priced at the grocery store. The idea is simple, dip blueberries in honey Greek yogurt then freeze them and them bam, you have an easy snack when you're craving something cold and sweet.

This pin sounds great but there one small caveat, your particular affection for Greek yogurt. I have tried to jump on this bandwagon a few times and have been disappointed every time (I believe I described the Yoplait honey Greek yogurt tasting like how feet smelled on Facebook once). One of my friends recommended the Greek Gods brand and it has been the ONE brand of Greek yogurt I can stomach, the rest have tasted more like eating a big spoonful of sour cream. That being said I decided (or was forced by laziness) again to expand my Greek yogurt tastes and buy a different brand (Target doesn't carry my Greek Gods-brand-insert sad face here).

Not to offend and Chobani supporters but this is DEFINIETLY not as good as The Greek Gods brand, however not the worst I have tried (I'm looking at you Yoplait) it most definitely stands in the middle by taste. After tasting the yogurt, decided on a taste test comparing the Greek yogurt covered blueberries to blueberries covered in my Archer Farms brand light Vanilla (best 80 calorie no Aspartame yogurt on the market). I grabbed my toothpicks and started dipping.
Although this process is not difficult, it is time consuming and I got bored fairly quickly. You stab the blueberry, dunk it and swirl it in the yogurt (you will lose a few blueberries and have to use your toothpick to retrieve them from their yogurt prison), then use a second toothpick to push the blueberry off of the dipping toothpick. You'll probably need a paper towel to wipe the toothpicks or use new ones every so often. I filled up most of a small wax papered covered cookie sheet and I still wasn't half through the blueberry pint.

The Greek yogurt ones were definitely better covered but even with my best efforts they didn't look as good as the pinned picture. The regular yogurt ones weren't as well covered but that yogurt is a heck of a lot thinner. In the freezer they went and after about an hour they were frozen completely
Greek yogurt on the left regular on the right
Here are my observations; 1st Freezing Greek yogurt is not going to magically change its taste, it’s still Greek yogurt only colder (and with some freezer burn like marks from the water in the yogurt crystallizing), 2nd I forgot how much I hate biting into frozen things (I have ridiculously sensitive teeth), and 3rd because of my first observation I enjoyed the regular yogurt dipped ones better.
These are what they are and for some people they would make a great healthy snack, however with the amount of time it takes to dip blueberries and how quickly the yogurt starts to melt (seriously eat these super-fast, the yogurt goes back to its semi-solid state in like less than 5 minutes out of the freezer) I don't believe these are worth the effort. I believe I would much rather throw some fresh blueberries into a cup of my Archer Farms Lite Vanilla (or my The Greek Gods honey vanilla the mood strikes me) and eat them that way.
I have one hint for my next involves Nutella!!!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Challange 18-Hawaiian Crockpot Chicken and the Gloriousness that are Crockpot Liners

I have had this recipe pinned for a really long time (like I had to hunt at the bottom of my Food and Drinks board to find it) and when my my mom was in town she had mentioned she had done this one before so I thought I would give it a try. With the weather at 110 degrees, it was a perfect for cooking dinner without having to heat up an entire oven. I also love crockpot cooking because it rarely involves a ton of ingredients and although visual appeal is low on crockpot food, the food is never dry and usually has a ton of flavor. This recipe falls into the super easy catergroy, as it only contains 3 ingredients; frozen chicken breast, a can of crushed pineapple, and Archer Farms Hawaiian Style Barbeque sauce.
Here is my tip to those of you who do not understand the greatness that is crockpot cooking; ALWAYS USE CROCKPOT LINER BAGS! I'm not sure what kitchen genius came up with the idea of sticking a plastic bag around the inside of the crockpot so you could have all the benefits of crockpot cooking without the hassle of traditional crockpot cleanup, but they deserve their own holiday in my opinion. They sell them in the same section as Ziploc bags and plastic wrap and they are worth every penny, don't crockpot without them.

Anyway, back to the recipe, throw the chicken in the crockpot (lined of course :), throw the crushed pineapple on top of the chicken, and throw the sauce on top of that and mix it around a bit so the chicken is covered in sauce. Now set the crockpot to low and set the timer for 6 hours.
Remember I said crockpot cooking isn't always pretty
I threw this together around 11:30am and left the house to run errands. I walked back in around 3:30 and the house smelled delicious. You could smell the pineapple for sure but I caught a bit of the mango smell from the sauce as well. Timer dinged at 5:30 and I made steamed broccoli (though afterwards I realized this would have tasted pretty awesome on top of rice too) as a side dish.

The smell was great and the chicken was super moist (another great thing about crockpot meat, it is never dry). The taste threw me at first but not in a bad way. For some reason I was expecting a super sweet chicken, more of a teriaki flavor but this BBQ sauce had a bit of a bite to it. Nothing too spicy and still more than I expected. The sauce was still sweet from the pineapple and mixing bites of chicken with the cooked pineapple was very good.
 All in all a good and very simple recipe but nothing knock your socks off amazing. The toddler ate it without much complaint (which is saying something) but she wasn't begging for seconds and the husband was out this evening (guess what he is having for lunch tomorrow). I probably won't go out of my way to make it but I think it will end up on the dinner rotation every once inawhile.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Challenge 17-Tequila Soaked Watermelon (and why I need to be more careful with what I pin)

So while in Memphis, the ladies and I were convinced (me more than the other 2) that we needed to do a pin while we were all there. I mentioned having one about watermelon soaked in tequila for a alternative to watermelon margaritas. We had the watermelon, we had the tequila, and we had the margarita salt so what could go wrong (famous last words). Well when your pin doesn't have instructions (I know, I know I need to be more careful what I pin but where is the fun in that) you have to make some stuff up on the fly and that's when it can get a little shady.

We cut the watermelon into triangles, three slices thin and three slices thick (I was with two scientists, we had to cover our bases) and a dipped them in a small bowl of the tequila. We weren't sure how long to soak them so we decided on about a minute because we could see how quickly the watermelon was soaking up the tequila.
We soaked the larger slices about a minute longer than the thin trying to give both a fair shake at even tequila soakage. With then sprinkled on the margarita salt for the finish.
I only wish I had a picture of the faces we made because that would have been priceless. The ouside of the watermelon tasted like tequila and salt (no big shock there) but the salt was super strong and almost no watermelon taste came through. The thicker slices were more watermelony but it was still a tequila and salt taste in your mouth first and after that the watermelon taste. I would have much rather made a watermelon margarita in the blender or just done a shot of tequila and then ate some watermelon.

After doing some research on the particular pin I have found there is a better recipe from Martha Stewart that involves triple sec and other ingredients that I believe (I haven't tried it...yet) that would probably be much tastier. . Let this be a lesson to those pinners who only pin recipes that are pictures (myself included), not everything will come out well if it doesn't involved specific instructions.
Off Topic Post-My trip to Memphis (and how one can accidentally run a 10K)

Although this is unrelated to my normal blog posts I felt like I wanted to share a quick story about my trip to Memphis to allow all of those who saw my Facebook post to get the whole story to my accidental 10K and any other casual readers would at least get a better understanding of what an a** I can make of myself on ocassion (or all the time).

This trip was planned when my college roommate, another close college friend (Shout out Marie and Valerie) and I decided to have a girls weekend. My college roommate just got an super awesome post-doc job at St.Jude's in Memphis. Since she had just recently moved and Memphis was about 1/2 way between Fort Worth and Kent we decided to meet up in Memphis. At some point someone suggested that there was a 5K/10K going on the Saturday we were going to be in town and we should run it together. I should first explain I am not a runner and have actually despised the idea of running until very recently, but I didn't want to be the one to say no so I said yes and started training.

Well after 3 months of training I was ready to head to Memphis and run my first 5K. We got up Saturday morning and headed towards the affluent eastern Memphis suburb of Bartlett, TN. We get there, check in, get our goodie bags and run them out to the car. As we are walking back to where the 5K is supposed to start is where the trouble begins. They announce the 5K will start in 5 minutes and runners start lining up at the starting line. I take stock of my bladder and decide that I need to quickly use the restroom before I begin my over 3 mile run. I sprint towards the restroom and wait behind 3 slightly pokey women. The entire time I am in the restroom I don't hear and horns, cap guns, or any other indication that the race has started. I sprint out of the restroom and see people lined up at the race start. I think "yeah I haven't missed it" and I look for my friends. I don't see them so I get in the pack assuming I will run into them at some point.

A horn is blown and off I go, feeling pretty good about my pace with the rest of the crowd. After about 1/2 a mile I realize two things. One, I still haven't seen my friends and two I see a sign on the road that says 10K and a arrow. I then of course realize that I have started the race with the 10K runners (which was supposed to start 5 minutes after the 5K and is on a completely different path). I now have two choices, quit (which almost instantly is not an option) or keep going. I kind of hoped that at some point the 5K track would intersect with the 10K one and I can get back in with my peoples, however by mile 3 I realize that is not going to happen. Now I know I'm in it for the long run (literally) and I have no clue how long my run has taken and how long it will take to get done. Right around mile 5.5 I get a call from my friends wondering what happened to me. I quickly explain the situation and let them know I'll get there as soon as I can. After passing the 6 mile mark I see the end at a distance and know I have a little speed left in me. In the end I finished in 1 hour 14 minutes and 23 seconds, a respectable finish for someone who never intended on running a 10K.

Running was so much fun and even though I ended up super sore it was a great experience. I plan on running 5 and 10K's again in the future, just this time I will make sure I use the bathroom well before the start of the race
Me (with my first bib but before my run)
In Memphis, after recovering from my race, I did have a chance to get one pin accomplished which I will most in just a little while.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Challenge 16-Sugar Glazed Pretzels...are AMAZING!

I decided that I could not in good conscience leave for my girls weekend tomorrow on a Pinterest failure. The idea nagged at me all day today as I scoured my boards for a simple pin I could complete. With my 8 hour car ride tomorrow I was inspired to find something I could snack on. I had pinned a cinnamon sugar pretzel recipe that I thought would be a great snack for the car ride to Memphis. The pin had instructions but also went to a blog detailing the instructions further (major bonus points). You can see her version at I only varied in that I used Pretzel Chips instead of regular pretzels (mainly because its all I had but also because I LOVE Pretzel Chips!) and I used half regular sugar and half Splenda (you could use all regular sugar)
The recipe called for 16 ozs of pretzels but in her blog she admitted to only using about half of that. I used about 10 ozs of Pretzel Chips and my casserole dish was about filled to the top. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. You will also need 2/3 a cup of some type of vegetable oil (I used canola), 1/2 cup of sugar (I did 1/4 regular sugar and 1/4 Splenda), and 2 tsp of cinnamon. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and then add in the oil. Stir until the mix looks well blended.
Now the original recipe has you put the pretzels in the baking dish and pour them wet mix on the pretzels and mix it up in the dish. As I was following the directions I thought it would probably be just as easy to throw the pretzels in the wet mix and stir them in there. Anyway, pop the pretzels (which have been mixed around and coated with the wet mix) into the oven for 30 minutes.
You are supposed to take them out after 10 and stir them around a bit and again after 20. When you take them out of the oven they will smell AMAZING, I likened it to being around an Auntie Anne's when their pretzels come out of the oven. After letting them cool a bit (but not all the way, I was too excited to try some) I taste tested them and they definitely do not disappoint. I think they taste like Auntie Anne's Cinnamon Sugar pretzels but with a crispy crunch.
As delicious as these are in the spirit of full disclosure the calorie count on these are HIGH. Between the oil (the biggest culprit), sugar, and the Pretzel Chips themselves, my estimated (and its only a rough estimate using online resources) calorie count per serving is and 280 calories for every 11 Pretzel Chips. I know that you could cut down the amount of oil in this recipe and up the amount of Splenda (or Stevia) to reduce the count but most of the time if a food is this delicious there is a trade off in calories. I now feel vindicated and can go to Memphis with a Pinterest Win on my record. I'm going to try to limit my intake of these bad boys and force my husband, child, and friends to partake in their cinnamon sugar yummyness!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Challenge 15-Etched Vase Fail

You would think after the past failures I have had, I might learn not to try pins with no instruction information, but alas I have yet to wise up. This particular pin has been on my craft board for awhile and when I started this blog I knew this was one of the crafts I wanted to try.
The instructions are simple: This is brilliant- rubber bands wrapped around the vases, then spray it with the craft spray that 'etches' the glass & remove bands. On one of my many trips to Michael's in the last few weeks I found the etching spray that the instructions were talking about. I bought a glass and some rubber bands at Dollar General and set it up this morning. I read the instructions on the spray and the basic pointers were to: A. Spray the etching compound in a well ventalated area, B. Spray in continuous motion to prevent blobby spots (my words not theirs), and C. Will not be completely dry for 4-6 hours and may need multiple coats. I wrapped the vase in rubber bands, trying to make a cool asymetrical shapes with the rubber bands. I used a mix of small and large rubber bands and a mix of thin and thick. I took all my supplies outside and that's when the trouble began.

I set up the vase out on a stone wall out in the back of our apartment complex. I started shaking the glass spray for the requested 2 minutes and then a heard a small crash. It's been fairly windy the past few days here in north Texas and the surface of the wall wasn't completely flat, that crash was the vase falling and cracking on the stone wall. Since it wasn't shattered I figured I would go ahead with my experiment and see how the etching went (I could always go back to Dollar Tree and get another vase). I followed the instructions on the spray but the wind wasn't really helping. The coverage was ok, but it was still hard to get an even spray on the glass.
The other major problem was that even after waiting a few minutes to move the vase, the first time I touched the vase my finger nail scratched off some of the etching. Doing this for real would defintely require multiple coats to get a decent etched coverage. After letting it dry all day (I did this around 8:30am and I took the rubber bands off at almost 7:00pm) some of the etching still scraped off and the rubber bands didn't make the best solid lines. I wouldn't do this craft this way again, but I did see another pin for the same idea that uses another type of spray paint (and actually includes step by step instructions). I plan on trying that one when I get back from our trip next week. As much as I love Pinterest, not ever pin is a winner.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Challenge 14-Trix Krispie Treats-What's Not to Love

So this pin was seen a few weeks ago and stopped me dead in my pinning tracks. The picture looks amazing and made me want to go to the store ASAP and buy some Trix.
I mean seriously how yummy do these look!! So when we went to Walmart last night I bought a bag of mini-marshmallows and a box of Trix (which made my 3 year old very excited). After dinner tonight I got out the ingredients and pulled up the recipe from 
  • 1 x 400g bag of mini marshmallows (about 2 cups)
  • 10 cups Trix cereal
  • 1/4 cup butter
  1. Place the butter and marshmallows in a glass bowl and pop in the microwave for about 2 to 3 minutes to melt.
  2. Stir well.
  3. Mix in your Trix and stir.
  4. Pour into a large greased pan (9 x 13 or 11 x 11) and press down with a spoon.
  5. Cut into squares.
  6. Serve with a colorful smile!
If you spray your spoon with non stick spray before using it to press down the krispies it works really well.

After reading over her instructions I was put back by two things; one that I was surprised the recipe only called for 2 cups of marshmallows and that I could melt both the butter and the marshmallows in the microwave. I felt like a sucker for all those years I was stirring butter and marshmallows over a hot stove. I put the marshmallows and butter in the bowl, set the timer for 2 and a half minutes. After about 30 seconds in the microwave the marshmallows began expanding and sort of looked like something out a bad science fiction movie. After the full 2 and a half minutes the bowl came out looking like the picture below.
I took the bowl out and began stirring and that's when the trouble started. The marshmallows began deflating and mixing with the butter in a very small and sticky mess.
Out of the microwave with only 2 cups of marshmellows
It just wasn't enough marshmallows so I checked the recipe again and I saw the 2 cups but then I also saw the 400 gram bag of mini marshmallows part. My Great Value brand marshmallows bag is only 297 grams full (and my bag wasn't full, marshmallows are my kryptonite which is why they are rarely in my house). Something was off with her measurements for sure, especially is she was calling for 10 cups of cereal. I wanted to salvage the recipe (I had a 3 year old begging for dessert) so I threw what marshmallows were left in the bag (about another cup and a half) and threw them back in the microwave for 45 seconds. I poured 4 cups of cereal into a measuring cup and waited for the microwave to ding. I pulled the bowl out and threw in the cereal and started stirring. The mix seemed a little on the marshmellowy side so I threw in another cup of cereal. Once everything was well blended I put it in my 9x11 inch casserole dish and pressed them into place.

We let them cool down and cut into them after about 10 minutes. Taste test wise they were good but neither the husband or I were blown away (even the toddler was less than impressed and only ate a few bites). Rice Krispie treats seem to take on their own flavor and you don't automatically go "Oh, I'm eat Rice Krispie cereal and marshmallows" however with these I thought " Hey that tastes like Trix covered in marshmallows". They didn't keep as good a rectangular shape as Rice Krispie treats do and actually think they look better in a ball shape instead.
These would be good for a St. Patrick's Day party or a party in the spring because of how colorful the Trix are, but I doubt they'll become a regular dessert staple in my household. I liked the ease of using the microwave but I would probably still use the pan to melt the butter and marshmallows, it gives you more time to troubleshoot if something goes wrong. My recipe if you do want to try them works out to 3.5 cups of mini marshmallows, 1/4 cup of butter, and 5 cups of Trix (which did fill up my entire pan so it could probably cut into about 18-24 servings depending on size)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Challenge 13- Glazed Bacon Wrapped Sausage Appetizer Deliciousness

So this pin (from has been very popular on Pinterest for the last few weeks. It is crazy simple and frankly how could something with four of the most delicious ingredients on the planet not taste amazing.

1 stick of butter
1 package of Lil' Smokies (I used the regular but I think it would still taste good with turkey or beef ones too)
1 package of bacon
1 cup of brown sugar

knife and cutting board
1 casserole dish
small pot to melt butter and brown sugar

Cut the bacon strips into thirds and begin wrapping up the smokies, making sure the edges of the bacon are on the bottom of the casserole dish. While your wrapping, go ahead and pre-heat the oven for 375. The whole bacon wrapping portion with take about 5-10 minutes depending on your speed and dedication and prepare to have cold fingers. I didn't quite fill up the casserole dish and I ended up with a few small slices of bacon left over (husband got bacon and fried eggs for dinner).
In a small sauce pot melt the stick of butter, once it's melted slowly add in the brown sugar whisking the whole time. After all of the brown sugar is in the pot and the lumps have melted (the mixture was a bit thicker than I expected, so be prepared) go ahead and pour the butter/sugar mixture over the sausages. You may need a spoon to even out the mixture so its covering all of the sausages.

Place these in the oven and set the timer for 20 minutes. After the timer goes off, raise the heat to 400 and add 5 minutes to the timer. This extra heat will help crisp up the bacon a bit. After they come out they will be bubbling and smell AMAZING!

Husband was the first taste tester and they were given a stamp of approval. His only complaint was he was given a piece where the bacon was on the fatter side and he would have liked to have it crispier. A friend of his was at the apartment and he said the flavors complimented each other more than he expected them too. I was attended a Pokeno game with some friends and these were my food item. They were all gone by the end of the night and many compliments were given for their flavor and general deliciousness. It can't get any better than that, unless I had actually won something at Pokeno last night but that's a different story. Next time I might go for more expensive bacon, as many of the pieces were on the fatter side, other than that I couldn't be happier with how the turned out. Try these if you get a chance, you will not be sorry and I can almost guarantee people will ask for you to make them again.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Challenge 12- Toddler Scribbles into a Work of Art

So this is the project I started a week ago and just got finished today. The original pin is from and gives step by step instructions on how to take kids scribble pictures and turn them into a wall mountable work of art.

This particular blogger used a stencil pattern and an Exacto knife to cut out the individual pieces. I loved the pattern she used, however I couldn't find a stencil pattern I liked at the craft store and I am inherently lazy. I thought I could take a different take on this idea. I bought a die cut kit and decided on a star die cut and had the inspiration to create a star shape on the canvas with stars. I gave my toddler an assignment to doodle her little heart out and gave her the white printer paper as her canvas. However, in true toddler fashion she refused for a week to color on the "white" paper and only wanted to color in her countless coloring books. I wanted to keep continuity and not use the different paper, so I waited. I painted the canvas with an acrylic paint in a teal color that I love and waited until I had enough scribbles to work with. One of the things I loved about this project was going through her scribbles and finding spots where she had crossed colors so the piece would be more diverse. Like Picasso before her, she decided she was having a blue phase which made it even more challenging to get a good mix of colors and lines.

I printed a star shaped template from PowerPoint and lightly traced in in pencil. I tried the star in a few places but ultimately liked it the best over in the corner and not completely on the canvas.
I used the die cut and chose spots on the paper that I thought had the best color combinations. I had to cut up a lot of the doodle sheets to get to those spots, which I felt a slight tinge of guilt cutting up my potential future artists work (I think she'll forgive me).
The most painstaking part was lining up the stars as perfect as possible. My desire for symmetry was fighting my desire to get this done so I eyeballed the distances between the stars and ended up happy with how everything lined up.
I then glued down all the stars. I had to wash the glue off my fingers a few times but other than being a slow process it was fairly easy one.  After seeing the stars on the canvas I decided it still seemed kind on bland to me. Then I got the idea to add a quote I loved. I wrote the quote out in pencil, using a ruler to line of the words as evenly as possible, and then went over the words with a Sharpie. Once the stars were and quote were done I got out the Modge Podge. I have to sheepishly admit, for someone who fancies herself as a crafty person I had never used Modge Podge before today. To me it seemed like an extra thick Elmer's glue, I proceeded to pour it on a paper plate and fill my miniature paint roller with the sticky stuff.
While applying Modge Podge I did have two stars go rogue. One was easily put back in its assigned spot the other ended up as a casualty and had to be quickly replaced. The Modge Podge was easy to put on, however I did fear it may not dry clear since it still had a milky white appearance even a few minutes after applying. I left the room and gave it the instructed 15 minutes to dry and came back. I was very happy to see it did dry clear and here are the final results.
I love how it turned out and I did enjoy putting it together. That being said construction today took about an hour and a half (which includes lining up stars and perfecting my font work) and that doesn't include the time in took to double coat the canvas. I think its an awesome way to use a child's artwork instead of just throwing it in a folder or putting it in the trash. If I were to do it again I would probably buy scrapbooking letter stickers instead of doing the font myself. I might take just as long to do the words applying the stickers, but I think it might look a little more professional.

Next up, making gift bags out of maps or other types of paper. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Challenge 11- Betty Crocker's "Impossibly Easy Mini Chicken Pot Pies"

This pin appeared on my radar a few days ago and it looked delicious. I have multiple recipes in my repertoire that are variations on chicken pot pie, my most popular one I invented in college when I realized how many calories are in pot pies and how long they take to bake. When I clicked the link I was surprised that although shows you how to make these delicious morsels they do not actually give you the specific recipe to them. Instead you are given links to recipes for similar dishes including Thai chicken pie, cheeseburger pie, and chicken n' broccoli pie. I thought this odd to not include the recipe in the picture, but I was now in the mood for chicken pot pie and chicken pot pie is what I was going to have.
I clicked on the chicken broccoli pie recipe and decided to tweak it a bit to be more like my chicken pot pie recipe. I figured that if I followed the recipe for the most part a few little changes wouldn't hurt. I choose to add corn and carrots as well as a can of cream of chicken soup. I felt like this would give the recipe a more authentic chicken pot pie taste. Other than adding in those items I stuck to the ingredients and amounts of the original recipe which you will find below.
Chicken-Broccoli Mixture
1 tablespoon vegetable oil                                         
1lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces                                  
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)                                        
1 cup Green Giant® frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained                                         
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper                                           
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz)
Baking Mixture                               
1/2 cup Original Bisquick® mix                                 
1/2 cup milk                                      
2 eggs
1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 12 regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray.
2. In 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken in oil 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink in center. Add onion; cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add broccoli, salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until mixture is heated through. Cool 5 minutes; stir in cheese.
3. In medium bowl, stir baking mixture ingredients with whisk or fork until blended. Spoon 1 scant tablespoon baking mixture into each muffin cup. Top with about 1/4 cup chicken-broccoli mixture. Spoon 1 tablespoon baking mixture onto chicken-broccoli mixture in each muffin cup

4. Bake about 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and tops are golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. With thin knife, loosen sides of pies from pan; remove from pan and place top sides up on cooling rack. Cool 10 minutes longer, and serve.        

I followed the Bisquick recipe to a T and cooked the chicken and onions to the recipes specifications. The Bisquick was a thin and slightly lumpy and I ended up with a lot of pot pie filling after mixing everything together. Because of the thin Bisquick and the wet mix getting the filling into the muffin tins was messy. My pictures are not as impressive as Ms. Betty's.

The mix

In the muffin pans and very messy

After 33 minutes at 375. Middle still soft but edges are brown and cooked

Did not stay in muffin form. Still tasty!
General opinion was good, very similar to the chicken pot pie casserole I usually make. It lacked spice but could easily be played around with to make it to anybody's preferences. It's a good base recipe with a lot of potential, although next time I would skip the soup in the mixture or only use half since I think that is the reason it didn't set in true muffin form. I did end up with extra filling and it was good enough to stand alone so I put it in some Tupperware to eat for lunch tomorrow. I would love to hear about other's take on this recipe, try it out and post your changes and tweaks and how it turned out for you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Challenge 10- Coffee Beans meet Tea lights

This one is another suggestion from the husband, and one he pinned before I did. The idea is simple, place a tea light candle in a small bowl around coffee beans. The candle will warm up the coffee beans, which will release a wonderful coffee bean scent into the room. This idea sounds great and the picture makes it look like classy table decor, great for a brunch or other small gathering. However, in practice this idea is great for decor but sadly isn't up to par in the scent department.
Picture from
The website this particular pin comes from is not in English (or Spanish, my ignorant assumption is that it's in Italian or maybe Portuguese) and was nothing more than a picture. I've had so-so luck with pins that don't come with instructions but Joe was excited to try this one and I mean look at the picture, how hard could it be.

I gave Joe the job of picking out the coffee beans while we were out at Central Market. He picked a Vanilla Nut bean which we had bought before. This particular bean has an amazing smell but it underwhelms in the taste department. We bought the candles from Walmart and used some small glass Pyrex bowls we had to set it up. Not as fancy as the picture but I figured it would work just as well.
We left the tea light to burn for at least an hour and the general opinion was that up close you could smell the coffee and it reminded us of something baking (probably from the general scent of that particular coffee blend). The scent didn't travel far though so you had to be pretty close to it to smell anything. Joe decided we needed to try again and this time have more bowls going at once to see if we could intensify the smell. Tonight we set up three bowls hoping that would help, mainly because we enjoyed the smell the one bowl had made, we just didn't want to have to stand six inches from the bowl to smell it.
We lit all three and left them to burn in the kitchen, again for about an hour. We also left the room so that we wouldn't be used to the smell (we were really giving this one a sporting chance). When we came back we were again underwhelmed by the range of the scent. We figured you would need bigger candles or more heat for this to really work as an air freshener. The look is great and it would be good as a centerpiece if you were having a brunch or fancy breakfast. For smell however you would be better off to buy a coffee scented candle or coffee scented wax for your Scentsy burner. However, my husband summoning his inner MacGuyver has decided that his next attempt will be putting the bowls filled with coffee on top my my Scentsy base. I'll let you know how this goes.