Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Peanut Butter Bars

Peanut butter and chocolate, how could you go wrong? I love just about anything peanut butter and am a sucker for chocolate so when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it. Plus it was easy and that is always a bonus. I got the recipe from here http://morganmoore.typepad.com/one_more_moore/2008/08/makin-stuff.html  

1 c. butter
1 c peanut butter 
2 c graham cracker crumbs (I bought ones that my eldest can have, and tossed them in the food processor to help make them into crumbs)
2 c powdered sugar (I used 1 1/2 cups and still thought it was too sweet, I suggest trying 1 cup) 

1 1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 Tbsp peanut butter

Melt butter & 1 c peanut butter. Add graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar. Mix until well blended. Press into ungreased 9"x 13" pan. Melt chocolate chips with 4 Tbsp peanut butter (either on stovetop or microwave, if mixture is too thick add a little more peanut butter or a little butter) and spread on top of graham cracker mixture. Refridgerate for at least 1 hour. Hope you enjoy!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Homemade "Twix" bars

I got this great recipe from here http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2010/09/27/im-rich-im-rich-thousand-dollar-bars/ I did tweak it slightly to fit our dietary needs. While not quite "Twix" they still taste super great.


Shortbread layer

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature

1 cup confectioners' sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups white flour

Caramel layer

2 cups caramel, cut into small chunks

3 tablespoons heavy cream

Attn. Those following the Feingold diet instead of doing the above for the caramel layer I made my own caramel sauce and you can get the recipe here  http://arcticlilysloops.blogspot.com/2012/02/caramel-sauce.html The sauce was a little too thin for this purpose so I added some flour to thicken it up. You want it thin enough to be able to spread it but more of a honey consistency.

Chocolate layer

3 cups chopped milk or dark chocolate, melted (I used two cups semi - sweet Ghiradelli chocolate chips and two cups milk chocolate Ghiradelli chocolate chips.

1 tablespoon vegetable shortening (optional) (for those that know me you know I did not use shortening, I used coconut oil instead).


1) FOR THE CRUST: Preheat your oven to 300°F. Spray a 9" x 13" pan lightly with cooking spray, or line with parchment, and set aside (I lined with parchment paper). 

2) In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the flour. At first the mixture may seem dry, but will come together as you continue to beat at medium speed. 

3) Take the dough (it will be somewhat stiff) and press it evenly into the pan. Lightly flouring your fingertips will help with any sticking. (To make it a little easier I took a drinking glass, coated it with a bit of oil and used it to help press it out.

4) Prick the crust all over with a fork. The holes will allow steam to escape and the crust will bake evenly with fewer bubbles. 

5) Bake the crust until it's lightly golden brown on top and the edges are deeper golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately run a knife around the edges to loosen the crust. Set it aside to cool completely. At 32 minutes this is what mine looked like and was a little too done so check it periodically!

6) FOR THE CARAMEL LAYER: Melt the caramel and cream over low heat in a small saucepan. Pour the caramel over the cooled crust and set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill and firm up. 

Attn: Feingold people, as stated before I did not make the caramel listed in the recipe but made my own and the link is in the list of ingredients above.

7) FOR THE CHOCOLATE LAYER: Melt the milk or dark chocolate slowly in a double boiler or over very low heat. If it seems very thick, add a tablespoon of shortening (coconut oil!) to thin it. Pour evenly over the chilled caramel layer and spread to cover all of the caramel. Return to the fridge until the chocolate is well set. Cut into 2" x 2" squares to serve. It's best to store these bars in the refrigerator.

8) These bars can also be cut and dipped in milk chocolate to resemble Twix ® bars. After the caramel layer has chilled firm, cut down the length of the pan, splitting the bars into two long, narrow bars. Then cut each long strip into "fingers". Dip the chilled bars into melted chocolate and place on parchment paper to set for several hours. 

Okay so I thought I would try to cut them up into long bars and dip the whole thing in the chocolate like in step 8. This did not work out so well for me and after doing half that way, gave up and and just  poured it over the other half like in step 7 and came out with bars looking like in the picture at the top of the page. If you want to save yourself trouble and mess that is what I suggest doing. Mine would kind of break as I was trying to dip them I think because the shortbread layer got too done, I still dipped the pieces and they still taste great but not going to go that route next time. This is how I cut them up, the the bars on the left are what I tried to dip in the chocolate and then the half on the right is what I decided to just pour the chocolate mixture over and let set in the fridge.

Here is where I tried dipping the bars in the chocolate. Kind of a mess. Oh well live and learn.

Here is how they ended up turning out pouring the chocolate over the top and I think look and taste great.




Caramel sauce

I got this recipe from this blog http://yankeehoosiermomma.blogspot.com/2011/04/homemade-caramel-sauce.html and it is delicious! With my eldest being on a special diet we make a lot of our sweets and treats from scratch and I was excited to find this easy recipe. Would be great drizzled on ice cream or other desserts. I also used it as a base in a recipe that called for caramel.

1 cup sugar (I used brown sugar thinking it would give it a richer flavor but I think she used white)
1/4 cup water
8 tbs (1 stick) of unsalted butter, cut up
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

Pour sugar into a small heavy sauce pan. Pour water evenly on top of sugar. With the stove on med-high heat, hold the saucepan handle and swirl around until sugar is dissolved all the way. Once dissolved, turn heat to high, cover pan and boil for 2 minutes.  The picture below is the point I put the lid on to boil for two minutes.

Remove cover and continue to boil until syrup turns brown around the edges and turns to a nice amber color. (you will not really be able to tell if using brown sugar). Keep going....When the syrup starts to smoke, it is done! (using the brown sugar I let it boil for awhile and had a pretty good idea of when it was done and took it just barely to the point it started to smoke.)

Now, you want to remove from heat and whisk in the pieces of butter until all butter is melted and mixed in. Be careful! When you put the butter in, the syrup will bubble and start to foam up.

Once butter is combined, stir in the cream. If mixture gets lumpy, place back on heat until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and salt.

Voila! You have caramel sauce!  Store in a mason jar in the refrigerator. This makes enough for 1 pint

Coco Rice and Beans

This has become a comfort food for me and is a favorite of mine when I want to make something quick and simple. I got the recipe from the recipe book, The 30 Minute Vegan by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray. http://www.amazon.com/30-Minute-Vegan-Delicious-Healthy-Everyday/dp/0738213276/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1330364936&sr=1-1

2 cups white basmati rice
1 3/4 cup water or vegetable stock (I use vegetable stock)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
1 (15ounce) can black eyed peas drained and rinsed or 1 1/2 cup cooked beans
*2 tablespoons fresh cilantro (optional)
*1 tablespoon peeled, minced fresh ginger (optional)

*The recipe suggests as an option to use cilantro or ginger, not both, I happen to like both and toss both in and think it is super yummy.

Place rice, water or vegetable stock, thyme, salt, coconut milk and ginger if you are using it in a medium size saucepan over medium - high heat. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until liquid is absorbed, 15 - 20 minutes. (in my experience I suggest checking it at about 12 minutes and then periodically after that).

Remove from heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl with the riced and beans. Add the cilantro if you are using it. Gently mix well and enjoy.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Make Up Magnet Board

Sooo, I have become obsessed with Pinterest as have many people. I love it. I am not very good at coming up with original creative ideas but when I see others creative ideas love to figure out how to make them. I have found some great ideas for things on Pinterest and here is my first attempt at trying out one of those ideas which was actually a success fueling my passion to try more. I was always so sick of rummaging around make up bags or make up drawers finding what I needed so looked up make up storage ideas and found this one. http://laurathoughts81.blogspot.com/2011/03/make-up-magnet-board.html A make-up magnet board. I am going to hang it in our bathroom next to my sink.

Old frame (bought for 50 cents at thrift shop)
sand paper
magnet circles (already had some in craft supply but can buy at craft stores)
hot glue gun with glue sticks
spray adhesive
tin to fit inside frame (hubby picked me up some at Lowe's)
cloth to fit over tin (bought for $1.50 at thrift shop)
paint (already had in craft supply)
paint brush
spray paint (to spray paint containers)
spray lacquer
containers (to toss lipstick, tweezers, mascara, misc. in. I used a couple sippy cups we lost the lids to and cut off the ridged part on top, original post used large prescription med. bottles.)

I sanded the frame a little just enough to score it, wiped off the dust and painted the frame. It may need two coats. You could also spray paint it if you so desire. Then I spray lacquered the frame. Using tin snips I cut the piece of tin to the right size to fit in the frame. I cut the fabric to fit over the tin leaving about an inch on each side. I did not have the spray adhesive on hand so just used regular glue to glue on the fabric which was a mistake. Use the spray adhesive if you have it. Then I pulled it taught and hot glued the edges of fabric to back of tin and placed tin in the frame. Then I got glued the magnets to the back of my make-up and stuck them on there. I spray painted the cups and hot glued two magnets to each and stuck them on there as well.

Stay tuned for more projects! Right now I am working on turning an old slatted closet door into a magazine rack.

Nacho Dip

Nacho Dip
For years my family's attempt at making nachos was to sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese over some tortilla chips and toss it in the microwave. While edible and maybe even good sometimes this still did not constitute that creamy, cheesy dip that most people associate with nachos. My oldest cannot have the store bought stuff that comes in a jar or even the velveeta that most use to make homemade nachos so I found a recipe that I tweeked a bit and think it tastes great. My husband has already requested it twice in one week. This is loosely based on on a recipe I found here http://www.slenderkitchen.com/skinny-queso/

1/2 of a large onion, chopped
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 diced poblano pepper (if you do not like spicy, take out seeds)
1 diced jalepeno pepper (if you do not like spicy, take out seeds)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 1/4 milk (I used 2% Horizon Organic)
3 tbsp cornstarch
2 cups sharp shredded cheddar cheese (I used one 8oz. package Tillamook sharp shredded cheese)
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1tsp chili powder
cilantro to taste (hubby does not like it so I just add to my serving when I scoop myself out some)
ground beef cooked (I do not like ground beef in mine but my husband does so I cook up a pound of it separately and he puts it in his.)

1. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup milk with 3 tsbp of cornstarch. Set aside, this will serve as the thickener.

2. Bring a medium to large sauce pan up to medium heat and oil bottom of pan. Add the onions, garlic, poblano, and jalapeno and cook for 5-7 minutes until they begin to soften.

3. Add the chicken broth and 1 cup of milk. Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 3 minutes to reduce slightly.

4. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan and stir quickly. It will immediately thicken up and begin to bubble. Once you see it thicken up, turn the heat to low.
5. Add the cheese and stir until it melts completely. Then add the cilantro, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Mix well, remove from heat and you have nacho dip! 
Nacho Dip with Ground Beef

Friday, February 3, 2012

Keeping the Sabbath - Our Shabbat Meal

Over the last few months through my prayer time, worship, and even just listening to the radio I have felt God really drawing me back to the basic spiritual disciplines.  Through this journey he has me on I started to feel more and more convicted about how myself as an individual and my family spends our Sabbath. Sure we go to church but it seemed that is where our focus and setting apart time on that day ended. The main grocery store we shop at is near church and I do not have the car during the week so often times right after church we head to the grocery store. We come home and I try to work on laundry and other household tasks that have piled up. I usually do some cooking, making treats for the family for the upcoming week and really just occupy my time with a lot of busyness. Then after our youngest goes to bed while my husband and oldest play video games I would spend a couple hours or more if I am being honest on the computer. I felt so heavy about this that when my family was not able to go to church a couple weeks ago due to my husband just having had surgery, during our family church time at home that morning I felt God leading me to give a message about the Sabbath to my family. It was hastily put together and I have a lot more reading and study to do on the topic but here are some of my thoughts.

I do not think that all this busyness  is what God had in mind when in Exodus 16:23 [He said to them, "This is what the Lord commanded: "Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord..."]. This is the first mention of the word Sabbath but certainly not the last. God felt this was so important that he included it in the ten commandments in Exodus 20:8-11 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."  I highlight the word holy because God could have just said the word Sabbath or day of rest but in both these cases he used the word holy just has he did back in Exodus 3:5 when he told Moses to take off his sandals because he was standing on holy ground. My Bible notes point out that piece of ground was not ordinarily holy but it was made so by the presence of God and that holiness involves being consecrated to the Lord's service and is to be separated from the commonplace. Well so is the Sabbath, it is to be consecrated to the Lord's service and separated from the commonplace. I was feeling that we were not making our Sabbath a special separate time to revel in God's rest.

A passage in Isaiah also really spoke to me. "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." The mouth of the Lord has spoken." Isaiah 58:13-14  How beautiful is that!!

Hebrews 4:9  compares the Sabbath rest to God's rest that we may enter through faith in his Son, Jesus Christ, and goes on in verse 10 to say "for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his." Honoring the Sabbath to me is a symbol and a representation of the rest we have in Jesus.

Some may say that the laws regarding the Sabbath was in the Old Testament and and not applicable to us. In Matthew 17 Jesus clearly states that he did not come to "abolish the law or the Prophets: ..... but to fulfill them."  The notes in my Bible say "Jesus fulfilled the Law in the sense that he gave it its full meaning. He emphasized its deep underlying principles and total commitment to it rather than mere external acknowledgment and obedience."  Jesus never disputed the importance of the Sabbath, in fact in Matthew 12 he declares the Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath and that it was "lawful to do good on the Sabbath."

So when going through all of this and deciding to make some changes in our family regarding the Sabbath I was trying to figure out what it would look like for us. The Jewish people celebrate and bring in the day with a Shabbat meal and while we are not Jewish and do not follow some of the same rituals they do on the Sabbath I thought a meal would be a great idea for us to recognize and give a sign to ourselves and to the Lord that we are taking this seriously and we are setting apart this day for him. Last week was our first one and I did not make a real fancy meal with lots of dishes because it is just the four of us and we are pretty simple but I did make some good Challah bread, potato kugel, and baked chicken. In addition to starting the Sabbath with a special meal I have personally chosen not to turn on the computer on the Sabbath and not to fill my day with busyness and housework, not to go grocery shopping but for us as a family to really spend some quality time together in the Lord and His rest.

A book I recently read on the Sabbath called Sabbath Keeping by Lynne M. Baab. When picturing what changes to make in myself and my family I enjoyed this excerpt from the book.  "When people talk to me about what they enjoy on the Sabbath, they describe bike rides and board games and outings to parks. They talk about skiing and gardening for hours and long walks with close friends. They discuss leisurely candle lit meals with stimulating conversation and laughter. They talk about relaxed recreation that feels open ended and luxurious, that enables them to do the things I've mentioned - breathe deeply, engage their senses, enjoy nature - and experience joy and fun as gifts from God."  Later in the chapter she says " One rabbi reports that his congregation wanted specifics about what they should and shouldn't do on the Sabbath. He used three questions to determine whether an activity was suitable
1. Does it promote rest and/or relaxation?
2. Does it bring delight and enjoyment?
3. Does it give you a sense of holiness and sanctity? In other words does it add to your sense of Sabbath?"

Honoring the Sabbath is going to be different for different people and different families. Just as it is important to honor the Sabbath it is important not to get caught up in the details of following the Sabbath. It is not about following a list of rules but about resting in God's presence and focusing on him and activities that promote resting in God.