Monday, November 24, 2014

Wine Cork Spools {for Baker's Twine}

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I have in insane amount of craft supplies in my office.
For real.
And I'm not even a legit crafter.
Sure I like to make cute things when I have time, but most of the time baking,
stalking Instagram and watching Nashville trumps crafting for me :)

I also have hundreds of wine corks.
Don't ask why.

Anyhoo - I decided I could put some of those wine corks to good use by helping to
organize all the random piles of Baker's Twine I have lying around.

I love Baker's Twine!
Maybe because I'm a baker :)
I love it for gifting treats to friends, making pom pom garlands and tying mini
Christmas trees to Matchbox cars.
Oh the many uses of baker's twine !

I didn't take step-by-step photos because I am lazy sometimes.
I think you can figure it out :)
Basically I wrapped the twine around each wine cork, cut a small slit at the top of the
cork with scissors to keep the twine in place.
The end.

Now all my random pieces of twine have a home.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mixed Food Bloggers Conference 2014

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Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Mixed Food Bloggers Conference at
Mountain Lake Resort in Pembroke, Virginia.
The resort where Dirty Dancing was filmed!!
This was my third time attending Mixed and for me, this was the best year yet!
You can read about past conferences here and here.
Mountain Lake is absolutely beautiful!

I did not plan to attend Mixed this year since I had just attended Food Blog Forum
in Asheville in August.  Two conferences were not in my budget, but I noticed that
Dixie Crystals Sugar was hosting a Mixed Cookie Contest.  Dixie Crystals would
pay the conference fee for the three cookie finalists and guess what?!?!!
I was chosen as a finalist!
Woo Hoo!!
My entry was Pumpkin Dark Chocolate Cookies.

As soon as I arrived I was told I needed to get started baking my cookies for the contest.
I was greeted by a cute Dixie Crystals apron and this fabulous sign!
What a welcome!

KitchenAid was one of the conference sponsors, so I got to use this beauty to make my
cookies!  I wanted to take it home to my daughter since it's JMU purple, but that didn't
happen :(

My cookie baking experience was a little stressful since I was baking in  a
a kitchen that I was unfamiliar with and using a commercial oven, but thankfully they
turned out just fine.

My friend Melanie from A Beautiful Bite and new friend, Joanie from ZagLeft
were also finalists.  Their cookies were so delicious!!
Melanie made Black Bottom Whiskey Pecan Cookies and Joanie made
Pumpkin and Pecan Polvorones - yum!

Guess what!?!?!
I won the contest!!!
Kimberly with Dixie Crystals presented me with my winnings.
I was SO excited!!!

Anyway - enough about me.
The conference was full of great information.
Meredith from In Sock Monkey Slippers, taught us how to make our own photography
backdrop boards. I can't wait to try this at home!

I was so into all of the speakers, I forgot to take many photos, but I learned so
much at this conference.  If you are a food blogger, you should definitely check
it out next year!

There was never a shortage of chocolate, thanks to Hersheys!

And Lavazza Coffee kept us caffeinated!
How about that view!

I had the best weekend!
I made lots of new friends, connected with blog friends I had met in years past
and took home lots of goodies and new information!

Thank you Mixed for a fabulous conference!
And thank you Dixie Crystals for sponsoring my trip!!

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Holiday Happiness in a Jar {DIY Christmas Craft}

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I'm not very crafty, but sometimes I can make some pretty cute stuff.
This for example.

I call it Holiday Happiness in a Jar.
It makes me happy every time I look at it!

Here are the details:

I purchased the jar from Walmart, but Target carries them too.
The snow is Epsom Salts.  You can find it the Pharmacy section of Walmart or drug stores.
The ADORABLE Christmas camper ornament is from Hobby Lobby.
I can hardly stand it's cuteness!!

The brush trees and miniature white fence are from Michael's.  Supposedly Michael's
carries the little plastic deer, but I can never find them at my local store.
I purchased them from Ebay last year.

I made the mini fabric bunting my cutting small rectangles of scrap fabric and
 hand stitching them together. I may add a little campfire if I can find one.

I love the simplicity of this adorable winter scene.
I makes me happy :)

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Make Your Own Waffle Bar

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The holidays are coming and that means entertaining family and friends.
I've found that one of the easiest ways to serve breakfast to the masses is to set up
Do-it-Yourself Stations for cereal, yogurt and waffles.  That way everyone can fix
what they like and the work is minimal for the hostess.

A couple of weekends ago I gave it a trial run with a Waffle Bar.
My hubby had an early morning flag football game, so we invited some players over
for breakfast after the game.

My waffle maker of choice is the Hamilton Beach Belgian Waffle Maker.
It is so easy to use and it makes perfect waffles every time!

Let's set up the waffle station.

I always put almond butter or some type of nut butter on my pancakes and waffles.
Have you tried it?
You should because it is so good!
Set out a selection for your guests - they will thank you.

Next I set out some homemade granola, mini chocolate chips, mini m&m's and fresh
fruit.  I also had coconut flakes and banana slices - yum.

Don't forget butter and syrup for guests that prefer more traditional waffle toppings :)

Most of the time I use Bob's Red Mill 10-Grain Whole Grain Pancake and Waffle Mix.
It's easy and they taste great too.
Win win for mom!

Everyone loves to use the waffle maker.
The Hamilton Beach ultra flip design gives you total flipping control so you can make
your waffle light or dark - just how you like it!

A perfect waffle!

With a DIY Breakfast Waffle Station, everyone gets to create their own
waffle masterpiece :)

Now if you can get them to do the dishes - you've got it made!

Happy Holiday entertaining!

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Good-for-You Granola

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Granola is good stuff.
It makes yogurt more exciting, but it's also nice healthy snack on it's own.
I usually make granola once or twice a month because you know how I love anything
oats and homemade granola tastes so much better than store-bought.

I like making my own granola because I can control how sweet it is and I can add the
fruit and nuts that my family and I prefer.

This was the first time I had added quinoa to a granola recipe, but I loved the added
crunch and nutty flavor it gave to the granola.  I will definitely add it again!

This recipe came from The Skinnytaste Cookbook.  Gina has some fantastic recipes
that are light on calories and big on flavor.  You should check it out!
I plan on cooking my way through the cookbook :)

Good-for-You Granola

1/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp. melted coconut oil
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
sea salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Rinse quinoa.  Drain well and pat dry with paper towels.
Spread the quinoa, oats and coconut out on a baking sheet.
Toast in the oven, stirring once, until golden, about 10 minutes.
Pour the oat mixture into a medium bowl and add the ground flax, almonds,
walnut, and dried fruit.  (Leave the oven on.)

In another bowl, combine the honey, oil, vanilla, cinnamon and a pinch of sea salt.
Pour liquid mixture over the oats; stirring until completely coated.
Spread the mixture out on the lined baking sheet.
Bake until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.
Makes 3 3/4 cups.

Recipe from The Skinnytaste Cookbook.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Sweet Potato Chili and Whole Grain Yogurt Cornbread

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Now that we have cooler weather here in Virginia,  I'm all about making soup or
chili for dinner. Good old comfort food at it's best!
Since my hubby and I don't eat red meat, I'm always trying to come up with new
ingredients to change up my go-to chili recipe.
Today I am adding garlic, sweet potatoes, lentils and Stonyfield yogurt to top it all off.

This month Stonyfield teamed up with Dreamfarm, giving me the opportunity to try
this awesome garlic press.  It's called a Garject Lite and it presses multiple garlic cloves
at once, without the need to peel them first.  How cool is that! I love how it cleans itself
as you open the handle!  The Garject Lite had the pressed garlic ready for my chili in
just seconds. I love the color too.

Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite vegetables! I love the color and texture they
provide to the chili.
Since my hubby doesn't care for spicy food, so I took it easy on the spices,
but feel free to adjust them to your liking!

Everyone knows that you can't eat a bowl of chili without a side of cornbread!
I decided to make a healthier cornbread by using plain yogurt instead of buttermilk.
I also added ground flax seed and a little honey to sweeten it just a bit.
I used a mini loaf pan similar to to a muffin pan to bake these mini loaves.

This meal definitely hit the spot on this cold, rainy day and it was
healthy, filling and delicious!

Sweet Potato Chili with Yogurt Cornbread

1 (32 oz) container Vegetable broth
2 (14.5 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes
1 cup lentils, rinsed
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/3 cup diced celery
1/3 cup diced green pepper
2 cloves garlic, pressed
handful of kale (I used frozen kale)
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
Stonyfield Plain Yogurt

In a large stockpot, add the vegetable broth, diced tomatoes and rinsed lentils.
Bring the mixture to a boil and then let it simmer for about 10 minutes.  This will soften
the lentils.
Add the remaining ingredients, except the yogurt, to the simmering pot.
Let the chili continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes, lentil and carrots
have softened.  This should take 10 - 15 minutes.
Spoon chili into bowls and top with plain yogurt.
Serve with Whole Grain Yogurt Cornbread.

Whole Grain Yogurt Cornbread

1 cup white whole wheat flour (I used Soft White Wheat in my grain mill)
2/3 cup whole grain cornmeal
2 T ground flax seed (optional)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1 cup plain Stonyfield Smooth & Creamy Yogurt
2 T melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a 9x9 inch baking dish, muffin tins or mini loaf pan with cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients.
In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring just until combined.
Pour into a 9x9 pan or using a large cookie scoop, fill muffin or mini loaf pan.
Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean,
Cool on a wire rack.

Serve with chili - Enjoy!

I am honored to be a member of the Stonyfield Clean Plate Club. I received product or coupons for writing this post, but all opinions are my own.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Green-Eyed Monster Smoothies

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Here's a fun way to get some fruits and veggies into the kiddos before they get all
jacked up on Halloween candy tomorrow tonight.
Green-Eyed Monster Smoothies!

Williams-Sonoma is celebrating Smoothie Week all week long and the theme is
Weird, Wild and Crazy Smoothies.  I love making smoothies!
A good blender is key to making great smoothies.
My Green-Eyed Monster Smoothies are super easy to make and are a healthy breakfast
or pre-trick or treating snack for the kids.

The green eyes are made with grapes and candy googly eyes.
I used a tiny dab of peanut butter to glue the eyes to the grapes.
The kids are going to think these smoothies are so cool, they will forget how healthy
they are!
Happy Halloween!!

Green-Eyed Monster Smoothies

1 ripe banana, sliced (preferably frozen)
1/2 cup pineapple (fresh or frozen)
1 tsp. ground flax seed
handful of baby spinach
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup crushed ice

Combine ingredients into a blender.
Blend until smooth.

Garnish with grapes and candy googly eyes.

Makes 1 large smoothie or 2 small ones.

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