August 30, 2014

Cooking Up Memories: Magic Cookie Bars

This recipe is from my college roomie and best friend Nicki and in the description she puts they are almost as good as brownies (which is our trademark dessert when we get together) so I was excited to try them!  Nicki and I have lots of memories cooking and baking together during our 2 years in our apartment in Waco.  She is one of the main reasons I love fall as much as I do--she introduced me to decorating for fall and pumpkin spice candles and my world has been completely changed because of that ;)

So in honor of the "last weekend of summer" and the kick off to fall (we can hope right?) I thought I'd make this.  And it worked out perfectly that we were having communion dinner with the Young Adults group, so I have somewhere to share this dessert so I don't end up eating every last bar! 

Magic Cookie Bars
*1/2 cup butter, melted *1.5 cups graham cracker crumbs *1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk *2 cup semisweet chocolate morsels *1 1/3 cups flaked coconut *1 cup chopped nuts
-Heat oven to 350 (325 for glass dish).  Coat 13x9 inch baking pan with no-stick cooking spray
-Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter.  Press into bottom of prepared pan.  Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture.  Layer evenly with chocolate chips, coconut & nuts.  Press down firmly with a fork
-Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool.  Cut into bars or diamonds.  Store covered at room temperature. 

 David and I both tried one and really liked them.  We have about half the pan left, so I plan to share the rest with our families who we're seeing later this weekend

August 26, 2014

Chase Turns 3!

 This past weekend we were able to attend a very fun day for our favorite little guy!  Chase is turning 3 this month, so we celebrated with a Monsters Inc Party!

 His Nana did a wonderful job with the Mike and Sully cakes and his mom had super cute party favors of Monsters Inc hats and goodie bags.  The party was at the Lake Highlands Rec Center and they had it set up with an inflatable slide and bounce house... along with lots of other toys for an obstacle course.  The kids were able to run and play and they all seemed to have a lot of fun
 We took a break mid-play session for snack and cake.  Chase had been very excited about blowing out his candles and he did a great job getting all 3 blown out at the right time!
Saturday night we headed over to his house for a family party.  We had dinner from Chick Fil A and watched as Chase opened all of his gifts from that day!
 He is starting to get into Superheroes now, so we bought him some Spiderman toys and a Batmobile
 He was super-excited about the Spiderman mask his parents bought him too!
He was in such a great mood all day long and seemed to have a lot of fun at both of his parties!  Aunt Lula and Uncle Dabid were glad to join in all the fun.  Happy Birthday Chase!

August 22, 2014

Year of Dates: Rangers Game

 For my Rangers-loving hubby, a year of sports dates couldn't be complete without some sort of Rangers game!  When I originally planned all the dates back in February I had written that for August I would watch a whole game with him on TV (usually I would just go to bed instead!) but since he had tickets to a game this month we made that our date instead.

We actually started the date off with a baseball movie.  Home Run is a Christian-based (cheesy) film about a pro-baseball player and his path to redemption.  We really actually enjoyed it :)  While we were watching the movie on Saturday afternoon it started storming, so we wondered what the evening would hold, but luckily the rain cleared out before the game--it was just muggy most of the evenings

 For Christmas, David's parents gave him a 6-game pack of tickets and he has great seats for all the games!  He's taken other friends to all of the games so far, but I agreed to go to one with him.
 We snapped a picture early on so I could put my hair up after that!
 We decided to leave our great seats for a while to go and walk around.  We ended up spending a few innings sitting on the upper deck because there was a breeze up there so it felt better!  And the game wasn't crowded so there was lots of room
I felt a little bad that we were up there when they did the Founding Fathers Race (in place of the dot race, they have random founding father including Nolan Ryan race around the baseball diamond) and we were so far away!  But David snapped a few pictures anyway!

It was a great afternoon and evening with my guy amidst a crazy month of house-buying!

August 21, 2014

Cooking Up Memories: Sour Cream Enchiladas

This week's recipe was for Sour Cream Enchiladas.  Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas are one of my go-to meals at Tex-Mex restaurants, so I was excited to try this recipe.  Although this recipe is made with ground beef, not chicken, which seemed to surprise a lot of people when I said I was making SC Enchiladas they assumed chicken and so did I at first honestly.

We had invited our friends Lucas and Yali over for dinner Wednesday, so I thought I'd include them in this week's experiment.  

 They made guacamole that included a jalapeno from Yali's garden and we enjoyed it alongside our chips and queso.  
Lucas declared these the best enchiladas he's had since he came to America, so I think that means they are a win!  We all really liked them and they were very easy to make!
And of course a Mexican meal with friends isn't complete without Sopapilla Cheesecake!

Sour Cream Enchiladas:
*1 pound hamburger meat *taco seasoning {I decided to make my own taco seasoning for the first time from this recipe and we loved it--and bonus I have a whole mason jar of it for the next time we want taco meat!} *Flour Tortillas *1 can cream of mushroom soup *1 package cheddar cheese *small carton sour cream
-Cook meat and add taco seasoning
-In separate pan, combine soup and sour cream-heat {I may have completed missed the whole "in separate pan" part of that step until just now which explains why I was confused about heating it, so I just heated this mixture for a minute in the microwave... good note for next time that there might be a better way to heat it!}
-Fill tortillas with meat, roll and line in pan
-Layer with sour cream mix
-Top with cheddar cheese--cover with foil
 Bake at 375 for 30 minutes

I can definitely see us adding this to our normal rotation of meals, since was fairly easy and so yummy!

August 16, 2014

Family Fun

We found out in May of this year that my brother and sister-in-law are having their 2nd baby in January of next year and we could not have been more thrilled for another niece or nephew.  So for the last couple of months everyone's been taking guesses of whether the baby is a boy or a girl.  Even my nephew weighed in who was convinced he was having a sister, but that the baby is a boy.  

We love my nephew and he has 3 boy cousins, so I think most people felt there was a high likelihood that the baby is a boy and everyone would just have a houseful of boys!

Last Friday night they had our families over for the big gender reveal.  We had pizza and hung out with everyone.  Chase handed each adult this envelope...
... which we all opened at the same time to reveal...
 As happy as everyone was to consider a houseful of boys, the news was thrilling that there will be a little girl in the mix (even though my sister-in-law was tricky and wrote it on a blue piece of paper, so some people were a bit confused for a minute or so)

David & I cannot wait to meet our new niece in January!

August 14, 2014

Cooking Up Memories: Chicken Pot Pie

This week's recipe was chicken pot pie!  I don't have a set way to pick each week's recipe--the 1st 2 I chose based on our schedules for those weeks.  This past week I showed David the list and had him pick one out and that was the one he chose.  I'll probably try lots of different ways of picking recipes--some more thought out and some random

But the Chicken Pot Pie was a big hit in our house.  I sent this picture to my co-worker who had given us this recipe to let her know it was hubby approved!

Chicken Pot Pie
Crust: *1 1/4 cup Flour *1/4 teaspoon salt *1 stick cold and cubed butter *3-5 tablespoons ice water
{I mixed together the flour and salt, then used my pastry blender to cut in the cubed butter and ice water}
Filling: *3 tablespoons butter *3 tablespoons flour in a saucepan {I melted these together} *add 1 teaspoon salt *add 1/2 cup chicken broth with 1 pint half and half {I cooked this over medium heat while I assembled the rest of the pie}
-Cook Chicken and veggies {I used 3 10 ounce cans of cooked chicken since that seemed easier to me and a bag of frozen mixed veggies that I cooked up}
Layer: Crust, Chicken, Veggies, Sauce, Crust
Bake at 425 for 30 minutes

I will definitely be making this one again some time!  David ate on it all week and enjoyed all of the left overs too!

August 5, 2014

Cooking Up Memories: Fajita Mix

We have been having really (unnaturally) awesome weather for most of this summer.  So we decided this past weekend would be a good weekend to grill out.

As a wedding gift Becky, one of my friends at work, gave me a box full of her favorite recipes that she and her husband make.  One of the recipes she gave us was for a Fajita Mix, so I decided we should try that out this past weekend by grilling up some fajita meat. 

 I love the fun cards she used for her recipes!
I had seen an idea on Pinterest to put homemade fajita mix in a salt shaker to have on hand.  Seemed like an awesome idea, but was definitely a pinterest fail.  The mix was too big to get through all of the holes in the salt shaker so it ended up being a big hassle.  So I took the top off and spread the mix on the meat that way!

We made both chicken and steak and David and I really liked the flavor of the meat!  Definitely a recipe success--one we can keep on hand and use time and time again.

Fajita Mix
*1 Tablespoon Cornstarch *2 teaspoons chili powder *1 teaspoon salt *1 teaspoon parika *1 teaspoon sugar *1/2 teaspoon onion powder *3/4 teaspoon crushed bullion cube (chicken) *1/4 teaspoon cumin *1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix it all together and spread it on the fajita meat before cooking. 
(And be careful to read the labels of your spices very carefully-- my cumin and chili powder containers look very similar, so my first batch had way too much cumin--which I didn't realize until I got to that ingredient on the list, 2nd to last-- so I had to start all over!  Lots of kitchen mishaps around here!)

August 1, 2014

Cooking Up Memories: Carolina Pound Cake

The first recipe I decided to try was Carolina Pound Cake.  My cousin's wife Nila sent this recipe to my shower.  I just love Nila and my cousin Rick and their family.  They live in Georgia, so we don't see them all that often, but we always have a lot of fun with them and their kids when we get together.  

David is not a big fan of any cake, but he does like pound cake (and stay tuned because I actually received 4 pound cake recipes!  So more to come!) so it's nice to have someone to share in the dessert!  And I was taking dinner to a co-worker who just had surgery so it was a perfect thing to split up to take her some dessert and keep a little for ourselves.

I am also trying to figure out this whole taking pictures while I cook thing, so I didn't even get a picture of the finished cake until after I had already cut it into slices!  But David and I both really liked it.  

Aren't these recipe cards so cute?  My sister-in-law sent them out with the shower invitations so I have a whole set of them.

Here's the recipe for Carolina Pound Cake if you want to try it:
Preheat Oven to 300
Ingredients: *1/2 lb of butter (2 sticks) *1/2 Cup Shortening * 3 Cups Sugar *5 Eggs *3 1/4 Cups Flour *1/2 teaspoon baking powder *1/2 teaspoon salt *1 Cup Milk *2 teaspoons vanilla extract *1 teaspoon almond extract
1. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, and baking powder--set aside
2. Creme butter and shortening in large mixing bowl.  Add sugar gradually with eggs (Little sugar, little egg).  Then add combined four, salt, baking powder alternately with milk.  Last add vanilla and almond
3. Pour into well greased and floured bundt pan--Bake 1 hour 25 minutes

**You can top this cake with a mixture of confectioners sugar and water to your taste**
(I skipped the glaze on the cake this time so it would be easier to slice up and transport to my friend!)

I would definitely call recipe #1 a success!

Cooking Up Memories: Introduction

I received a lot of recipes when David and I got married.  My sisters-in-law hosted a shower with family and close friends and had everyone bring recipes with them and then I received a box of recipes from a co-worker and some recipes from a few other friends included in our wedding gifts.  I was so grateful to get all of those, because I really do love to be in the kitchen!  

I realized about a month ago that I've made some of the things I received recipes for, but not nearly enough of them.  These are the favorite recipes of some of my favorite people-so I decided to make a plan to try them all.  I organized them all into different categories and made a list of all of the recipes to easily access... and when I made the list it just so happened that there were 51 recipes.  So it seemed perfect to try to cook through all of them in a year... and what better time to start than right after our 1st anniversary?  So in Year 2 of the Daniels home I will be attempting to cook all of the dishes I received recipes for when we got married.

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” 
― Laurie Colwin

I was searching through different cooking quotes this afternoon trying to come up with a good title for this series of blog posts.  I really liked the one I found here that talks about the history and wisdom from others in cooking--because I definitely need that!  And then I found a kitchen vinyl wall art that had the family name and said "cooking up memories since ____" So I decided cooking up memories was a good way to summarize these posts.  Looking at the memories I have with each person who gave me a recipe.  Thinking of the memories they have with their families.  And thinking of all the memories our family is making!

I made my first one for the year this past week, so I'll write about it in a separate post.  But for now, I'm looking forward to cooking up lots of memories this coming year--in and out of the kitchen.

A Year Worth of Recipes:
2. Fajita Mix
3. Chicken Pot Pie
4. Sour Cream Enchiladas
5. Magic Cookie Bars
6. Crockpot Cheese Chicken Spaghetti
7. Chicken Parmesan
8. King Ranch Chicken
9. Pumpkin Bread
10. Caramel Apple Cheesecake
11. Guacamole
12. Chicken Marsala
13. Chicken Spaghetti
14. Spaghetti Casserole
15. Monkey Bread
16. 8 can Taco Soup
17. Impossible Pumpkin Pie
18. Sour Cream Coffee Cake
19. Poppy Seed Chicken
20. Cookie Brownie Bars
21. Cranberry Punch
22. Hash Brown Casserole 
23. Alla Panna Sauce
24. No Bake Cookies
25. Hot Applesauce Crisp
26. Sour Cream Pound Cake
27. Lasagna
28. Chicken Taco Soup
29. Poppy Seed Bread
30, Baked Ziti
31. Bruschetta
32. Pesto & Pepperoni French Bread Pizza
33. Incredible Apple Dumplings
34. Italian Creme Cake
35. Grandma Bergstedt's Carrot Cake
36. Creamy Baked Chicken Breasts
37. Cream Cheese Pound Cake
38. Pasta Fagioli
39. Double Chocolate Chip Cake
40. Muffin Tin Rolls
41. One Dish Chicken & Rice Bake
42. Mexican Rice
43. Alfredo Sauce
44. Hashbrown Casserole
45. Ma Harper's Cold Oven Pound Cake
46. Shrimp Appetizer
47. Chicken & Spinach Pasta Bake
48. No-Bake Strawberry Icebox Cake
49. Chocolate Sheet Cake
50. Chicken Salad