Homemade Hot Chocolate

Now that it’s getting colder there are three things I love to make!

#1:  Homemade soups, stews, and chili! Nothing better then curling up on the couch on a cold day with a movie and a homemade bowl of yummyness!

#2 Fresh baked goodies! I love how the oven warms up your home on those cold days and how the scents make your home smell so good!

and

#3: Hot drinks! Normally I make tea or packaged hot cocoa but I remember making homemade cocoa with my mom when I was young. So I decided to make my own!

The pin:

http://simple-nourished-living.com/2011/02/hot-chocolate-recipe/

 

Ingredients:

Ingredients

Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/3 cup hot water

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

4 cups milk

dash of salt (optional)

Mix sugar, water, and cocoa in a saucepan and cook until boiling, make sure to stir constantly! After mixture comes to a boil continue to stir it and let it boil for 2 minutes.

Cocoa, water, and sugar boiling.

Cocoa, water, and sugar boiling.

After the two minutes is up add the 4 cups milk and heat to desired temperature. But DO NOT let it boil!

Milk added

Milk added

Once it is at the temperature you like remove from heat, add vanilla and whisk until foamy. Top with whipped cream, marshmallows or whatever you like!

Tips from me

#1 I had a few snack sized Hershey’s chocolate bars laying around so I had Alison, my daughter, chop them up into bits. Then we sprinkled a little in the bottom of our mugs before adding the hot chocolate. The we stirred it up and wow it added just a little something extra to the already amazing drink! You can also add the grated up chocolate to the sauce pan instead of putting it in your cups like we did!

Secret ingredient!

Secret ingredient!

Ready to drink!

Ready to drink!

 

Everyone loved this drink and we all agreed that this was WAY better then the packaged mixes! It was so tasty we didn’t have any leftovers! This is my new favorite fall/winter drink and it wasn’t any harder then making packaged mix! Alison couldn’t get enough of it, as shown below, and wants to know when we’ll be making more!

Yummy!!

Yummy!!

Happy Pinning!

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Chocolate Chip Brownie Cookies!

Ok so I heard about this thing called chocolate chip brownie cookes and I thought “OMG that must be heaven on a plate! It’s almost to good to be true!!” then I did some searching on Pinterest, I had to type it in just like it is on the title because “brownie cookies” gets you a bazillion ways to use a brownie mix to make cookies, and I found them!

Now while I did pin a recipe I only used it for the basic guidelines: temp and time to bake.

The pin:  http://pinchofyum.com/chocolate-chip-cookie-brownies

Now how I made them was like this:

Ingredients

Brownie mix and chocolate chip cookie dough.

Brownie mix and chocolate chip cookie dough.

Now to make the cookie dough I simply followed the Nestle toll house recipe. After this I mixed up the brownies according to the instructions on the box. After that I took a cake pan, the pin used a smaller square pan for thicker ones. But mine after baking filled the whole pan, and spread the brownie batter around.

Brownies on bottom

Brownies on bottom

Then I used my cookie scooper to put the cookie dough right on top of the brownie dough and finally I took a spatula and smoothed the cookie dough around a bit.

Ready to bake!

Ready to bake!

Bake in the over on 350 degrees for 40 minutes then cool and enjoy!

Cooling down...

Cooling down…

 

Ready to eat!!

Ready to eat!!

Tips by me:

#1 When they came out and I scooped out the first piece I noticed that there was more cookie then brownies, unlike in the original pin. So I decided that next time I will put half the cookie dough on top and bake the rest as cookies!

#2 If you like gooey brownies or cookies then bake for 35 minutes. If you like them fully baked then cook until a knife or toothpick comes out clean after being inserted into the center.

#3 To make it even easier (for time crunched people) get a packaged cookie mix along with the brownie mix. Follow all instructions on both mixes, layer then bake!

#4 Don’t be alarmed at how brown the cookies are on top but if your cookie part is done before the brownies (insert toothpick all the way to the bottom of your pan to see if the brownies are still undercooked) then cover the dish with tin foil to keep the cookies from burning.

These were super easy to make and sinfully delicious! This was definitely a hit with my family and I doubt they will let me bake regular cookies or brownies ever again!

Happy Pinning!

Baked Spaghetti Squash

I love eating spaghetti squash with my pasta sauce so much now I doubt I will ever eat pasta again! But I have never cooked it myself….until now! The few times I have had it my mom has baked it and I have either #1 eaten it at her house or #2 taken some of her already cooked and frozen squash home with me. So while we were out at the local pumpkin patch I bought up both a nice spaghetti squash for about $1.50 each. Tonight I ate the last bit of the frozen squash I had left so I decided tonight I would cook the one I had at home.

The pin:

http://inspireandindulge.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/paleo-spaghetti-squash/

To bake the squash you cut it in half lengthwise and clean out and dispose of the goopy guts! Then place the squash skin side up on an oiled cookie sheet. Some people use olive oil, salt, and pepper on the squash before baking it. However I just spray some Pam for baking on the cookie sheet and bake it like that,

Well the squash has a really thick skin and it was impossible for me to cut it so I asked my boyfriend to help me. By the time I got it in the oven it looked like this:

Pieces ready to bake.

Pieces ready to bake.

The poor thing was in about 5 pieces and, as you can see, I had about half a pumpkin to roast too.  So I put it in the oven on 350 degrees for an hour. You’ll know it’s ready when you can easily prick the flesh with a fork.

Cooked!

Cooked!

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

Once it’s cooked use a fork to scoop out the flesh, it will come out in strings hence the name spaghetti squash. After this you can use it for any recipe from spaghetti squash au gratin or put spaghetti sauce over it. It’s delicious!

Tips from me:

#1 After it cools down I intend to measure it out in 1/2 cup fulls, place in individual baggies, and then freeze it until I am ready to use it!

#2 Remember when roasting any squash the time may vary due to the size. Bigger, thicker ones take longer and the smaller ones will cook quicker.

Happy Pinning!

Banana Nut Bread

Last night my boyfriend came home with 4 rotting bananas he had found at his house and he asked me to make him some banana nut bread. Then he told me his roommate wanted me to make him some of my homemade beer bread (https://aradiasilvermoon.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/homemade-beer-bread/)  and at first I was flabbergasted thinking “What am I a short order cook?” But then I was flattered because apparently I was getting so good at baking homemade breads that everybody wants some! So off I went to my Pinterest page and I brought up the cooking board where, sure enough, I had a recipe pinned for banana but bread! Now the recipe I found was for a double, 2 loaf, batch so I cut the ingredients in half to make just one loaf. I put the half ingredients on this post but if you want the double batch ingredients go to the pin below.

The pin:

http://southernfood.about.com/od/bananabread/r/bl30426m.htm

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp baking soda

2 cups flour

3 very ripe bananas mashed

1/8 tsp salt

1 cup chopped nuts

Ingredients

Ingredients

Melt the butter then cream with the sugar in a large bowl then add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly before adding another. Mix the flour, salt, and baking soda together in a separate bowl then slowly add the dry mixture to the liquid ingredients. Then you mash the bananas on a plate.

Bananas ready to mix in the dough.

Bananas ready to mix in the dough.

Then fold the bananas into the dough and mix well then add your chopped nuts (I used walnuts). After the dough is ready pour into a greased loaf pan and cook at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Ready to bake!

Ready to bake!

Now I don’t have an after photo since it’s not done cooking yet! I have made banana bread before so I know this will turn out just fine! 🙂 I love any fresh bread straight out of the oven! So warm, fluffy, and at times so gooey….I am getting hungry just thinking about it!!

Tips from me

I don’t have any today! This is a fairly easy, simple, and straight forward bread that anyone can make!

Happy pinning!!!

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Long time no post! Life has been very busy! Between healing my ankle, preparing my boyfriend’s surprise party, and a few other extracurricular activities I haven’t had much time for posting. Last weekend my mom and I made about 13 dozen cookies for her church’s weenie roast. I found this yummy recipe off Pinterest and made them along with the peanut butter, lemon, ginger snap, chocolate chip, snickerdoddles, and Neiman Marcus cookies.

The pin:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/toll-house-white-chip-chocolate-cookies/

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups flour

2/3 cup baking coca

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup butter/margarine

3/4 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cups brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 package of white chocolate chips

Ingredients

Ingredients

Heat oven to 350 degrees and then combine coca, flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Then in another bowl beat butter, sugars, and vanilla until creamy. Then beat in eggs and after this combine in the dry mixture. After this add the chips.

Cookie dough

Cookie dough

Scoop by rounded teaspoons onto an ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 9-11 minutes,

Finished and ready to eat!

Finished and ready to eat!

Tips by me:

#1: These are just white chocolate chip cookies with chocolate batter to  make them triple chocolate I cut the white morsels down to 6 oz (Half a package) and added 6oz semi sweet chips for more chocolate!

#2 Eat one hot right out of the oven!! But you didn’t need to be told that did you??

I found these to be easy and delicious to make! Want to see just how many cookies my mom and I made??

Neiman Marcus, Snicker Doodle, and Triple Chocolate chip

Neiman Marcus, Snicker Doodle, and Triple Chocolate chip

 

Lemon, Ginger Snap, and Chocolate Chip.

Lemon, Ginger Snap, Peanut Butter, and Chocolate Chip.

So many yummy cookies!!! Enjoy these yummy cookies!

Happy Pinning!!!

Crock Pot Round Steak and Gravy

I am sure I have said this before but I LOVE my crock pot. I just love putting ingredients in, turning it on, and leaving for work so when I get home dinner is ready to be served! So I am always looking for new recipes to use so I can expand my crock pot horizons! I bought some eye of round steaks at a local store sale ($1.90 for 2 steaks! Amazing!!) and wanted to do more then just pan frying them up. So off to Pinterest search I went and I came up with this:

The Pin:

http://www.justapinch.com/recipes/main-course/beef/crock-pot-round-steak-gravy.html#.UE3G0Kia0FA.pinterest

Ingredients:

Round steak (or eye of round like I used)

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 packet Lipton onion soup mix

1/4 cup water

All you do it place the steak in the crock pot and add the soup, water, and onion soup mix on top of it and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Ready to cook!

Ready to cook!

After this is done cooking you can put these steaks on top of pasta, rice, or mashed potatoes….or you can eat them as is! I cooked tri-color rotini pasta and placed a steak on top of the noodles and poured some of the gravy on top. Yummy!

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

Tips from me:

#1 Before I added the onion soup mix I blended it with the water before pouring it over the steaks and mushroom soup.

#2 Right when they were done cooking, while I was baking the biscuits for dinner, I sliced up some mushrooms and onions (I left them in rings). I heated up a frying pan and added a small bit of butter and when ready I added the onions and let them slowly caramelize. When the onions were half cooked I added a little more butter and added the mushrooms and cooked until done! When I plated dinner I put the rotini on bottom, added the steak, poured a bit of gravy on top, and then top it all with a healthy dollop of the onions and mushrooms.

Onions and mushrooms added.

Onions and mushrooms added.

It turned out beautifully and tasted so yummy! Even my picky daughter said she loved them! She never liked mushrooms before so while cooking I had her help me caramelize the onions and mushrooms so when plating the food she said she wanted some. She has never cleaned her plate up so fast! She said she wants it more often so after I post this I am off to the store to get some more! I loved how quick and easy this dinner was (sometimes crock pot meals require more work once the entree is done) and the flavors….just amazing! Enjoy!!

Happy Pinning!!!

Halloween Crafts: Lollipop Ghosts

I love, love, LOVE Halloween! It is my favorite holiday and one day when I own my own home I will decorate so it is Halloween 24/7 365! So when this time of year rolls around I love to decorate, make spooky fun crafts, enjoy lots of pumpkin flavored things, and jsut get ready for the most spook-tacular month of the year!

Ingredients:

Bag of Tootsie Roll Lollipops (or other suckers like Blo Pops, but not flat ones)

Box of tissues

Yarn

Items you need to make this craft.

Items you need to make this craft.

First you are going to cut some yarn in pieces big enough so you can tie it around the lollipop stick.

Cut yarn

Cut yarn

Then you drape a tissue over the lollipop and tie it just under the round sucker part on the stick.

almost done

almost done

Now you can decorate your ghosts! Some people use marker to put eyes, nose, and mouth on them but you can decorate them anyway you want! I put spooky fun stickers on them. Also before you hand them out don’t forget to frill out the bottom of the tissue to make it look like a floaty ghost!

Finished Ghost

Finished Ghost

This is a fun craft for kids or adults. I work as a Occupational Therapist and I took the items to work and had my patients make some for their kids/grandkids/friend etc. They all had so much fun! Making these will help increase fine motor skills, sequencing, creativity, and if you do them while standing will help balance. So it is ideal for kids, disabled people, or patients in a nursing home…to me thats the best part anyone can make these because they are so easy and simple!!

Hopes and Dreams

I have been sidelined by a badly sprained ankle so I have been unable to attempt any crafts, new recipes, or other things I have had lined up for awhile. So I haven’t had any new things to post but I missed posting so I was looking at my boards for anything new, funny, or inspiring. But what I found was a small almost forgotten board titled “My Dreams”. I started it when a group I was apart of wanted to know what everyones hopes and dreams for the future were. So I made the board to pin a few things and here are some of them

My Board:

http://www.pinterest.com/aradias/my-dreams/

First I would like to travel to Finland!

Finnish Flag

Finnish Flag

I know everyone reading this is going “Finland?!?” it’s the response I get a lot from my family and friends. I love so many bands that come from Finland and I have always been slightly obsessed with the region since my ancestry on my dads side comes from there.

Second I would love to be able to pay it forward in a big way!

Helping others

Helping others

When I was down and needed help many people were there to support me and help me with so many things….among them paying my bills and rent. Right now I try my best to do what I can when I can. At times I have paid for someone else’s order and a restaurant or give food out to a homeless man. One day I will help others in a way I was helped!

and

Third every day I will tell myself this:

Motto

Motto

I have lots more dreams but these are some of my favorites! Remember everyday to do something random and nice for someone..it could be a smile, a hug, a soda, or buying them lunch. Anything can change a person’s life! Always follow my motto above!

Happy Pinning!

How to Freeze Cheese

Yes you read that title right I am posting about a good way (it’s probably not the only way) to store sliced cheese in the freezer. When I say sliced cheese I don’t mean those processed american cheese slices. What I mean is those real cheese slices by Kraft or Sargento among others. I have found in the past that when I freeze these then thaw them out they stick together despite being separated by manufacturer’s placed wax paper. So I figured out a great way to keep them separated without sticking together. Now this isn’t a pin yet, after I post this I will pin it lol but I wanted to share this because it’s a great way to save money! I keep posting about my own frugality and there is nothing I hate worse then paying full price for items…except maybe having to throw things away due to preventable issues! I recently got a bunch of Kraft Sliced Natural Cheese at a BOGO Sale ($2.99 each and I used a $1.50/2 coupon to pay $1.49 for 2 packages) so I used this to freeze them effectively.

Items needed:

Sliced Cheese

Freezer Paper

Freezer Bags

Ingredients

Ingredients

First I tore off a sizable chunk of freezer paper and I placed one slice of cheese on top of the paper leaving enough space at the bottom so you can fold this on top of the slice of cheese.

Lay cheese on freezer paper.

Lay cheese on freezer paper.

Then I laid another slice of cheese on top of the paper that I folded over the first cheese.

Fold over and add another.

Fold over and add another.

Then I roll the slices over so the top slice is covered then I add another slice and another until I have a packet of layered cheese, making sure none of the cheese is touching anything other then freezer paper.

 

4 slices layered and wrapped up.

4 slices layered and wrapped up.

I fit about 4 slices to a packet so I had 3 packets after all ten slices were rolled up.

All 10 slices wrapped up.

All 10 slices wrapped up.

Then I put all packets in a freezer bag and placed the empty package on top so I knew which flavor was in each bag.

Everything all wrapped up and ready to store.

Everything all wrapped up and ready to store.

Once you needed cheese all you have to do is pull a bag out, thaw it in the fridge, and then peel a slice off the paper and use it! It may be a bit crumby, all cheese is after freezing it. But it should still be manageable enough after this to use.

Happy Pinning!

Healthy Crock Pot Meatballs

I love my crock pot because there is nothing better then coming home at the end of the day and dinner is done! You just add ingredients, set the time, and it takes care of the rest! Love it! So I am ALWAYS on the hunt for new recipes for my crock pot. I used to just use it to cook roast. stews, and cream of mushroom chicken but other then that I had no idea what to do. Now thanks to Pinterest I can find TONS of recipes and I can use my much loved crock pot more! I found this yummy sounding meatball recipe and I just had to make it! Meatballs are so versatile! You can make sandwiches with the, put them on noodles for spaghetti, eat alone, or put on spaghetti squash!

The Pin:

http://glow.beautygala.com/healthy-crock-pot-meatball-recipe/

Ingredients:

1lb ground turkey (you can use any ground meat chicken, pork, or cow)

1 egg

1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs

1/4 Parmesan cheese

4 garlic cloves

2 28oz crushed tomatoes

Italian seasoning

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients

Ingredients

Combine ground meat, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, egg, and 2 cloves chopped garlic in a bowl. Mix the ingredients with your hands (do not over mix because it will  make the meatballs tough). Then create (with your hands) meatballs the size of a tablespoon, you can vary the size depending on your taste.

Meat mixture ready to form.

Meat mixture ready to form.

In the crock pot place the two cans of crushed tomatoes and the 2 bay leaves then add 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning. Add the meatballs on top of the tomato mixture then add the other 2 garlic cloves, you can mince them if you want.

Tomatoes, bay leaves, and Italian seasoning.

Tomatoes, bay leaves, and Italian seasoning.

Cook on high for 5-6 hours or on low for 8-10 hours, Salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Ready to cook.

Ready to cook.

All done and looking so yummy!

All done and looking so yummy!

 

 

Tips from me:

#1 I cooked these on high for 4 and half hours and it was delicious but next time I will cook on low for the 8-10 hours. By letting it simmer longer it will give the flavors longer to mingle and should taste amazing.

You can serve these on spaghetti noodles, on a sandwich, brown rice, or over vegetables like spaghetti squash or zucchini. I love spaghetti squash so I had mine this way and it was so yummy! I love how these turned out they were so light, tender, and flavorful these will become a staple in my family from now on! Plus the ingredients are so cheap and made of things I already have in my pantry and freezer. You should know by now I am all about using what you have on hand and things you can get on sale like the ground turkey! Since I bought the bread crumbs for this recipe alone so I know for a fact I will be making it again, and again until these are gone lol!

Enjoy and Happy Pinning!