Prepare Post: Just how messy can I make my kitchen..?

Dinners, Recipes

Last week I posted my shopping list for my crockpot challenge, you can view it as well as the list of meals I’m making. So I went to Giant and bought all those ingredients, brought them home set to work… I put everything out on my table and added all the stuff I already had in my kitchen.

Crockpot 1

That’s a lot of food..

I started with the veggies first.. I cut up all the veggies and set them aside on plates.. the onions, peppers, potatoes and celery.

Although I wanted to make recipes that had as little cooking as possible I did precook the ground meat. You don’t have to, but you will have to add some time to the recipe if you don’t. So that’s what I did next, I browned all the ground meat, except for the meat I used for the meatball stew; that I set aside to make meatballs with.

Next I labeled all the bags, I wrote the meal name on it and also wrote the amount of broth that needed to be added. Some of these recipes call for 2-4 cups of chicken/beef broth, it didn’t make sense to me to add that to the bag that I froze because there was hardly room in the bag for it. I figured it would be just easier to add the broth into the crockpot when I cooked the meal.

One thing to note, however; is that broth only keeps in the fridge for about 7 days after you open it. What you can do though, is freeze it; and the easiest way I’ve found to freeze broth is in ice cube trays. Use the trays and then collect them all in a baggie that stays in the freezer. Measure each cube and you can figure out how many cubes equal a cup, etc, then label the bag with it so you don’t forget.

I took each recipe one at a time. I added the meats to the bags first, then the veggies, the starches (quinoa, rice, potatoes..) and the sauce and seasonings.

One thing you should not do… is assume that the bags will sit up on their own.. It’s not very easy to add all those ingredients to the bags with one hand.. So at one point I noticed with enough ingredients in the bag it kind of sat up itself.. so naturally I walked across the kitchen to check the recipe or something… and when I looked back, I had tomato sauce dripping down my dishwasher.. very close to loosing the entire contents of the bag to the floor.. uhh whoops..

I bagged all the recipes, except for one which I actually just made that day but can easily be frozen as well, and stuck them in the freezer. I probably should have checked my freezer ahead of time because all 5 bags, just about fit in my freezer. I had to do a lot of reorganizing to make everything fit.. good thing I didn’t add that broth…

Stayed tuned for my next posts about how each recipe turned out.

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Plan Post: That’s a heck of a grocery list…

Dinners, Recipes

A few weeks ago I posted about my crockpot challenge adventure. I must admit I’m a little behind on posting, but I have actually been completing the challenge, so I’m finally getting to posting about it.

I narrowed my long list of choices down to 4. Then I thought, oh hell… why not 6? Here are the ones I chose (some aren’t from the original list):

  • Beef Stew (not as healthy as I would like but I’ve been dying to make this)
  • Tex Mex Shredded Chicken
  • Turkey Chili
  • Stuffed Pepper Soup
  • Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
  • Chicken, Potato, Quinoa Soup

From there I had to create my shopping list, which is not a easy feat, I might add. What I found easiest, was to copy each recipe into a Word doc and start a new doc for my list. I started with the first recipe and added each ingredient to my blank doc and the amount. Then I went through each recipe and added on the amount if the item was already on my list and added the ingredient if it wasn’t. I know, I know, there’s probably an app out there for that, right? Actually, I have it. But the app also requires you to add each recipe to it’s database and then also specify the amount for each ingredient. Sometimes technology isn’t as easy as copy and paste… No, but seriously it’s a great app for normal grocery shopping.

Originally I was going to go to BJ’s because I thought wholesale would be better but I didn’t actually end up needing an excessive amount of anything in particular so I just went to Giant. I had to use one of those actual sized carts, instead of my usual halfy. You would also think that I would have taken a picture waiting in line too, since I used an actual checkout line instead of my usual self-checkout but I forgot, whoops. You’ll just have to see all the food in my kitchen in my next post.

Here is my shopping list (it’s quite impressive):

Produce

  • Onions 5
  • Peppers 3
  • Jalapenos 2
  • Baby Carrots 2lb
  • Sweet Potatoes 2
  • Potatoes 1lb + 4-5 singles
  • Frozen corn 3 c

Meat

  • Chicken 6lbs
  • Ground Turkey 4.5lb
  • Beef 2lb roast

Starch

  • Quinoa 2 c
  • Rice 1 c

Dairy

  • Eggs

Sauce

  • Tomato can diced 75 oz + spicy one
  • Spicy diced tomato
  • Tomato Sauce 23 oz
  • Beef Broth 6 c
  • Chicken Broth 11 c
  • Worcestershire 1tbsp
  • Can Mushrooms 4oz
  • Red wine ¾ c

Seasonings

  • Salt 2tsp
  • Pepper ½ tsp
  • Thyme ½ tsp
  • Garlic 4 tsp
  • Chili powder 7 tsp
  • Parsley ¼ c
  • Basil ½ tsp
  • Oregano ½ tsp
  • Garlic Powder 2 ½ tsp
  • Onion Powder 2 tsp
  • Cumin 2 tsp
  • Red Pepper Flakes ½ tsp
  • Paprika 1 tsp
  • Flour 3/4 c
  • Brown Sugar 1 tbsp
  • Oil

Everything that’s bold are the ingredients I knew I already had in my house (yes, I had 75 oz of diced tomatoes in my kitchen.. don’t ask).

Stay tuned for the actual trip and the mess I made in the kitchen.. No, surprisingly I didn’t make much of a mess at all. Except for when I almost dumped an entire meal on the floor… Hmm, story to follow..

But everyones doing it…

Dinners, Life, Recipes, Uncategorized

Didn’t your momma always ask you, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too”?

You’re supposed to answer no, by the way…

Well you know what, sometimes following the lead is good. I’m jumping on the crock pot bandwagon.. well, to be clear, I’ve always been on the crockpot bandwagon but I’m going to do the crockpot frozen meal challenge. Actually I think I just made that up, but that’s how all great things start, isn’t it?

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I’m going to do a series of posts over the next month or so, starting with this one, which we’ll dub the “Proposal Post” and over the next month I’m going to plan, buy, prepare, cook and (the best part) taste 4 different prepared ahead frozen crockpot meals. Pinterest is my go-to and I’ve found a few recipes I want to try, but if any of my followers want to throw out some suggestions or take votes on the ones I listed below, I’m up for it. Who knows, if I get enough recipes maybe I’ll make more. I’m trying to stick to the healthy side so don’t give me any creamy, cheesy goodness to make, because I might just cave.

Some recipes I’ve found so far that are on my maybe list are;

  • Lemon Chicken
  • Chicken and Spinach
  • Chicken and Sweet Potato stew
  • Pineapple Salsa Chicken
  • Beef and Broccoli
  • BBQ Chicken
  • Chicken Fajitas
  • Tex Mex Shredded Chicken
  • Teriyaki Chicken
  • Meatball stew
  • Sticky BBQ Meatballs
  • Chicken and Rice
  • Italian Chicken
  • Veggie and Beef stew
  • Beef Chili
  • Pulled Pork

So I guess that was more than I was initially going for but I’ll narrow it down and once I figure out all the logistics maybe I’ll bump it up to 6 meals, we’ll see… I’m only cooking for one so I’m hoping one pot will be leftovers for a week. So in the coming weeks you can expect the following posts from me, its a promise;

  • The Proposal Post (that’s this one)
  • The Plan Post (where I tell you all the meals I’m going to make and my shopping list)
  • The Prepare Post (this will be the crazy part where I share my shopping trip, all the food that I know have in my house and the preparing and separating)
  • The Pot 1-? Posts (Recipe and evaluation of meal 1-?)
  • The Post-Pots Posts (the final eval)

Like all my P’s? Let the crockpot challenge begin! Make sure you leave me some suggestions or votes! And maybe I’ll pass on this challenge and make it an actual thing!

Fancy Margarita Cupcakes

Desserts, Recipes

A while back I did a 21st birthday post, with a lot of alcoholic dessert recipes, its one of my more popular posts so I figure I would post some modifications to my Margarita cupcakes. You can find the original post here.

This time, I opted for a more lazy recipe. I just bought confetti cake mix and made the cupcakes from a box. I still stuck with the same icing but I added some extra flair this time.

photo 4

I thought the straws were a cute touch. Next time I’m going to add a small shot a tequila to the middle so you can sip a shot before you dig in. =)

No-bake Cherry Cheesecakes

Desserts, Recipes

Sometimes I like to be elaborate and sometimes I like to be simple. When it comes to baking that is… So here’s a super simple cheesecake recipe that requires no baking a little effort.

No-bake Cherry Cheesecake

What you need:

  • 2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 10 Tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 can cherry pie filling

What to do:

  1. Cream together 1/2 cup of the sugar and cream cheese until smooth and creamy and set aside.
  2. in a stand mixer, whip cream until small peaks form.
  3. Fold 1/4 of the whipped cream mixture into the cream cheese mixture, once combined, add the remaining whipped cream and fold in gently.
  4. In another bowl, combine graham crackers, sugar, melted butter and stir to combine.
  5. Evenly distribute the graham cracker mixture into 2 lightly greased cupcake tins. Use a shot glass to pack the graham cracker crust tightly into each tin.
  6. Spoon even amounts of the cream cheese mixture evenly into each tin and spread to fill.
  7. We’re done! Place the tins in the freezer for 1 hour and then use a knife to pop each cheesecake out and then refrigerate until ready. Spoon a few cherries on top of each before serving.

photo 1

Creamy Tortellini Spinach Soup

Dinners

Tortellini is one of my all time favorite pastas. This dish is so good! Delicious good not healthy good 😉

What you need:

  • 1 bag Barilla 3 cheese tortellini
  • 7 oz spinach
  • 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 Tbsp flour

Creamy Tortelini Spinach Soup via Design with Influence

What you do:

  1. Cook the tortellini according to the package. Cook to al dente.
  2. While the tortellini is cooking, chop the spinach.
  3. In a large skillet, saute the garlic for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the tomatoes, spinach, S&P, basil and onion powder. Cook and stir over medium until just boil.
  5. Separately, whisk to combine flour and half-and-half until smooth.
  6. Add the creamy mixture to the skillet along with the Parmesan cheese.
  7. Heat through, reduce the heat and cook until it thickens, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add the drained tortellini and mix.
  9. Enjoy!

Mason Jar Overnight Oats

Recipes

Are you, like me, the kind of person who leaves not a spare minute in the morning before rushing out the door? If I can do it on the road or at work I don’t do it at home. Breakfast is one of those things. I never eat breakfast at home and so I try and find anything that I can bring to work and eat. Sometimes I get bored of the banana and yogurt. I like oatmeal but hot cereal isn’t quite my thing. So here is a mixture of both…

Mason Jar Overnight Oats

What you need:

  • 2 Mason jars
  • Quick Oats
  • Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Fruit (whatever you want)
  • Cinnamon and sweetener optional

Mason Jar Overnight Oats via Design with InfluenceWhat to do:

  1. Gather 2 mason jars, I don’t recommend making more than 2 at a time because the fruit won’t stay that long.
  2. Following the directions on the oatmeal container add the right amount of oatmeal for one serving to each jar.
  3. Then add slightly less milk then the directions suggest to each jar.
  4. Add about 1 Tbsp of greek yogurt to each jar.
  5. Add the cinnamon and sweetener if you’re like me, and only like oatmeal when it has a taste…
  6. Close the lid and shake to combine.
  7. Reopen the jar and add whatever fruit or toppings you want.
  8. Suggested Flavors:
    1. Strawberries and bananas
    2. Blueberries and bananas
    3. Mango
    4. Apple
    5. Strawberries and Kiwi

Buffalo Turkey Chili

Dinners, Recipes

To warm you up during this cold, cold, snowy winter, there’s nothing better then some chili..

Buffalo Turkey Chili via Design with Influence

What you need

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • I large carrot peeling and chopped
  • I medium onion
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • S&P
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 hot sauce
  • 7 oz can tomato sauce
  • 7 oz zesty chili style can diced tomatoes (Del Monte)
  • Shredded cheese and scallions for garnish
  • (add beans  if you’d like but I’m not a bean person..)

What to do

  1. Start by adding a little bit of olive oil to a medium pot, over medium to high heat. Add the ground turkey and a little bit of S&P and brown.
  2. Add the carrots, onion, garlic, chili powder and paprika. Cook until the veggies are a little softer, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken broth, hot sauce, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.
  4. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for at least 15 minutes. The longer it simmers the thicker it will get, so simmer until desired (up to an hour.)
  5. Add more seasonings if desired.
  6. Serve with cheese and scallions or however you’d like. Enjoy!

 

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Hors doeuvres, Recipes

You’d think after blogging recipes for so long I would have learned a better process by now but I always forget something. I’ve made this dip twice and each time I have forgotten to take a picture of the final product. Probably because I always decide to make it so last minute and it just slips my mind..

Jalapeno Popper Dip

What you need

  • 8oz Cream Cheese
  • ½ cup plain greek yogurt (the original recipe I found called for mayo but I like to replace mayo with greek yogurt in cases like this, much healthier..)
  • 4 oz Velveeta, cut into ¼ in cubes
  • 3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • half a roll of Ritz crackers, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 scallion, chopped

What you do

  1. Preheat over to 350°.
  2. Beat cream cheese and yogurt in a bowl until blended.
  3. Mix in the Velveeta and peppers.
  4. Melt the butter and toss with the crushed crackers.
  5. Spread the cream cheese and pepper mix into a pie plate and sprinkle the crackers on top.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until heated through. Top with scallions.Jalapeno Popper Dip via Design with Influence

Don’t let the name scare you. Its actually not that hot. Although, Velveeta does make a jalapeno cheese which might add some spice to it if you want to kick it up a notch.

Christmas DIY

Desserts, DIY, Graphic Design, Life, Recipes

This post contains the following recipes: Eggnog Fudge, Buttermilk Maple Walnut Fudge, Chocolate Covered Caramels, Protein Energy Balls.

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year. I just love the holidays and everything that goes along with them. All the family traditions that don’t seem very big that just make the holiday special. And as quickly as it comes.. its gone.

The only thing I don’t like about Christmas is the gift buying. Not because I’m selfish.. although I am broke- but mostly because I hate crowded malls and cramped stores and 45 minutes drives to stores that are 2 miles away. This year (mostly because I’m broke) I did DIY gifts for most people. You all know my love of pinterest and all things crafty. So I decided to do homemade treats. I threw around a lot of ideas, it started at mason jar hot coco, then mason jar cookie mix, then mason jar candies (see the pattern..?) So naturally my final idea had nothing to do with mason jars. Well not entirely, I did 2 different gifts, one was mason jars the other wasn’t.

As mentioned above, I don’t like shopping in crowds, so naturally I don’t do Black Friday either but I did do Black Saturday (do they have a name for the day after Black Friday yet..? I don’t know..) I found these cool mini bread pans at Micheal’s that were 3 for the price of 1. So I bought 9 for $6. Then I did some pinterest searching for a cool treat that I could fill them with. I landed on fudge. So I attempted (key word: attempted) to make 3 different kinds of fudge and layered them in each bread pan. Red Velvet Fudge (um yes.) Egg Nog Fudge (very holidayish.) Buttermilk Maple Cream Fudge (buttermilk and maple- end of story.)

The Red Velvet Fudge failed. Miserably. The final product was edible, just not quite the texture of fudge, more of googey, stretchy candy. Good thing I tested it a week early. So what I ended up doing was making the other 2 fudges which turned out much better and chocolate covered caramels.

Eggnog Fudge

Eggnog Fudge via Design with Influence

What you need

  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • ¾ cup eggnog
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 10-12 oz white chocolate ships
  • 1 jar/7 oz Marshmallow creme
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp vanilla

What you do

  1. Line a 9×9 pan with foil and butter the foil well.
  2. Combine the butter, eggnog, cream and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stirring occasionally. Once the mixture has begun to boil, reduce the heat and continue to cook until the temperature reaches 240°. The first time I made this (as a test) I didn’t have a candy thermometer so I used the soft ball method (drop some of the mixture into a glass of cold water, once the drop form small soft balls the temperature should be about 240), which I was actually successful with but I do recommend a candy thermometer if you can get your hands on one.
  3. Once it reaches 240, remove from heat and stir in the white chocolate chips. Stir until melted and blended in.
  4. Add the Marshmallow, nutmeg and vanilla and stir until blended in.
  5. Once the mixture if smooth, spread into the foiled pan. Garnish with some more nutmeg if you’d like.
  6. Let cool at room temperature. Once its cooled, I recommend putting in the fridge for another hour or so to harden- it makes cutting the fudge easier.
  7. Cut and serve.

Store covered, in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Eggnog Fudge via Design with Influence

Buttermilk Maple Fudge

What you need

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup walnuts

What you do

  1. Line a 9×9 pan with foil and butter the foil well.
  2. Combine both sugars, butter, cream and maple syrup in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stirring occasionally. Once the mixture has begun to boil, reduce the heat and continue to cook until the temperature reaches 240°.
  3. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and walnuts. Stir to mix in.
  4. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes and get ready for an arm workout. After the 10 minutes, stir continuously for about 5-10 minutes. The fudge should be cooled and thick when you’re done. My fudge was a little soft when everything was done.. I think the longer you stir the firmed it will get so stir!
  5. Once you’ve gotten your workout in, pour into the foiled pan and place in the fridge for at least an hour.
  6. Cut and serve. This stuff is actually addictively delish!

My plan was to make labels for the gifts but because my Red Velvet didn’t turn out everything was very last minute and I didn’t have time for that.

In place of the failed Red Velvet Fudge, I did Chocolate Covered Salted Caramels. Like I said, everything was very last minute so I totally cheated here, in the future I will not cheat but I couldn’t take the chance that these wouldn’t turn out and I’ve never made caramels before and have been told they are very difficult.

Chocolate Covered Salted Caramels

What you need

  • If you’re going to cheat.. 2 bags of individually wrapped caramels candies
  • Melting chocolate
  • Sea salt

What you do

  1. Line a cookie tray with wax paper.
  2. Melt the chocolate either using a double boiler or in the microwave. Unwrap all the caramels while the chocolate is melting.
  3. Dip each caramel in the chocolate. Using a fork, remove the caramels from the chocolate, letting the excess drip off. Using another fork, place the caramel on the wax paper, repeat with the remaining caramels. The chocolate will set pretty quickly so pause every few minutes to sprinkle the sea salt on top of each caramel.
  4. Place in the fridge for about a half hour before you remove from the cookie sheet.

The caramels will harden (the teeth breaking hard), so if giving these as a gift recommend to the recipient they do not store them in the fridge, they are completely fine being store at room temp.

With the above recipes I made about 9 gift packages.

I also couldn’t knock my mason jar ideas so I did a few other gifts using masons jars. I just happen to have 5 extra mason jars lying around from when I first moved and thought I would use 12 mason jars as decorations in my house.. so those didn’t cost me anything (but the dollar store sells mason jars!). Then I found this cool pinterest recipe for protein energy balls and thought that a few select people would appreciate them than the sugary fudge so I filed the jars with the protein energy balls.

Protein Energy Balls

What you need

  • 2/3 cup raw almonds
  • 2/3 cup walnuts
  • 2/3 cup raw oatmeal flakes
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup agave nectar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • mini chocolate chips (optional- Surprisingly I preferred them without the chocolate)

What you do

  1. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper.
  2. Using a food processor, process the almonds, walnuts, oats, cinnamon and salt to a fine meal.
  3. Add the agave nectar and vanilla and process to mix.
  4. If you’re adding the chocolate chips throw those in and give it another mix.
  5. Roll the dough into small balls and place on the wax paper. Wetting your hands every so often makes rolling the balls a litter easier. Repeat with remaining dough.
  6. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for about an hour.

Protein Energy Balls via Design with InfluenceI filled 5 mason jars with protein balls doubling this recipe.

These could have turned out much better if things just worked out how they were supposed to. But of course they never do…

Christmas Fudge DIY via Design with Influence