Tag Archives: cooking

High Hopes for the New Year

3 Jan

Anyone who has read my stuff or known me for any length of time know that I don’t do resolutions for the new year. I do resolutions, just not based around what month/day it is. About mid-December I decided to make one of these resolutions, but I haven’t quite had the ability to begin working toward my goals because of moving and finances and so on.

That goal is to buy an item to donate to homeless shelters/food banks every time I go shopping. I know firsthand that people donate more around the holidays. In fact, the Christmas season is enough to keep us stocked for most of the year in things like toys and treats, and we really don’t get too much the rest of the time. While that is great, this is something that we really should work on. Hunger and homelessness are something that are always an issue, not just when it’s cold out (though that is especially awful). Now, the next thing that I have to say might be a little on the unpopular side, but I really have a hard time getting on board for giving toys to kids for Christmas. I’ve also seen firsthand how some parents can afford several gifts, but not as many as they’d like to give so they ask for more. I’ve also seen children who get a “cheap” toy (think off-brand) and they scoff at it and don’t want it. Toys are important but I also think it is important to focus on something other than the commercial aspect of Christmas, and find better ways to teach them giving, caring, and family values.  That is why, when I heard about a program called “Gifts for Grands” I became so excited!

This program focuses on elderly people in nursing homes similar facilities. Think about how sad it can be when family stops coming for these people. The things they want aren’t extravagant, either, but every day necessities like soap and socks. I didn’t hear about it soon enough to be useful, but in the future I’m hoping to focus on giving in this manner.

I’m not here to preach, but I am here to share in knowledge, experience, and growth. I often ask my readers to join in with me on any challenges I do, and this one isn’t any different. I have a short list of things that I hear are really high in demand, so I’m not only buying food, but other daily necessities, too. Socks and tampons/pads are high up there (let that sink in for a moment). Non-perishable foods are always important, too. I have my eye on things like canned green beans and corn, but also things like beans, and even Craisins (just recently discovered and they are so delicious!).

Finally, before I’m finished, I don’t want to reflect back on 2015. I want to talk about 2016, and I have high hopes for this year. I woke up in a wonderful mood, and while I’m looking forward, I always have to give the disclaimer that this is how I feel now. That is the problem with resolutions. We make them with our best intentions, but times and people and situations change, so what is right January 1 might not be right June 1, or even January 2.

My hopes for the new year are to cut down on some debt that I’ve accumulated, and begin saving again. I have my sites set on a new car come the end of next year. I want to make my friendships a priority again (I started this a few months back) and see more of each of the people that I love so dearly. I also hope to finally get that significant other I’ve been pining for, and I think I’ve already taken some positive steps toward getting there. I also want to become more spiritual (for those of you who don’t know it, I’m actually a very spiritual person). I’d like to cook more (how many times have I said that) but I don’t foresee that changing in any less than 3 months. I’d also like to become more active. More hiking this summer, more yoga, and I’d like to pick up something fun like kick-boxing.

Those are my hopes. That is how I’m feeling now (and does it feel nice, indeed!). We’ll see where the year takes me!

Are you going to join me with my donations goals (we can totally co-blog about it!)? Any other ideas of hot commodities to buy? What are your hopes for the coming year? 

My Latest Food Endeavors

29 Mar

I don’t want to hear any of that nonsense about not actually using Pinterest. I use it all the time! And my most recent party was no exception. I made 4-ish new recipes and 1 old favorite. Unfortunately, a couple of the recipes didn’t do a very good job at describing how to use the recipe, so I had to wing it. In the end, they came out fine, but I still would’ve liked a little more direction.

That’s where I come in. You know I absolutely love sharing things with my friends and readers, so these are the recipes I tried:

Egg Roll Wrap Mozzarella Sticks

Bacon-wrapped Jalapeno Chicken Bites

Bubbly Cheese Garlic Bread

Strawberry-Mango Lemonade

Now, while you are perusing those recipes, here are some helpful tips I found:

Egg Roll Wrap Mozz Sticks

Cut string cheese into thirds, then use wonton wraps instead of egg roll wraps – the cheese sticks will be more bite size

Bacon-wrapped Jalapeno Chicken bites

1. Smaller cuts of chicken take less time to cook, and yield better results
2. If you like your bacon crispy, you only need 1/3 of a strip of bacon to wrap around the chicken piece. Wrapping the entire piece of bacon means the bacon on the inside doesn’t get crispy.
3. If you choose to do this on the stove instead of the grill, put a lid on your skillet to keep in the heat for faster cooking (nothing really happened when I didn’t have a lid).
4. The toothpicks make it hard to get the bacon to touch the skillet on all sides (the lid helps), so if you can think of a better method – use it!

Bubbly Cheese Garlic Bread

Not the best garlic bread I’ve had, but be careful about how much creamy Italian dressing you use. If you like creamy things, definitely use the whole cup. If you don’t like that creamy texture, use 1/2 cup, or even less. I would say more butter, less dressing if you don’t like creamy – it adds good taste, but butter crisps up and the dressing didn’t.

Strawberry-Mango Lemonade

This one was delicious, but the recipe doesn’t tell you how to make a whole pitcher, which is just silly! I did the math for you, so here’s the recipe to make a pitchers worth:

1 can lemonade concentrate (yields 64 oz when prepared)
2 cans Mango Nectar Juice
1 container of strawberries (the standard plastic container), tops removed
1 Tbs sugar (optional)
1/2 C. water (optional)

First, prepare the lemonade concentrate per package directions. I always skimp on the water because I like my lemonade more tart, but either way is fine! Next, just pour in both cans of Mango Juice. Finally, you are going to puree the strawberries. I added 1/2 C of water and 1 Tbs sugar to the blender with my whole package of strawberries, but you don’t have to do this. For me, it made my blender happier.

So yes, blend your strawberries into a puree, and then add that to your lemonade (I added 3/4 of what I made and made the rest into ice cubes, but you can add the whole amount, too). It’s really pretty, so you can leave it like that, or stir it how you’d like. And there you go – a whole pitcher!

Tried any new recipes lately? What’s your biggest pet peeve about finding recipes online? 

Egg Roll Wraps: Not Just For Egg Rolls (A Few Tasty Recipes)

25 Apr

Egg roll wraps are these nifty little things that are the biggest reason why I love egg rolls. Because they are my favorite part, I like to use them for other things. Here are a few recipes to try if you ever have some left over, or are just in need of trying something a little new:

 

  1. Deep Fried Burritos: Everything is better deep fried, right? Isn’t that like…the American dream? Well, burritos are no exception. Personally, I use refried pinto beans, some cheddar cheese, and some cut up green chili. A simple enough recipe that you can adapt for whatever you need and the green chili definitely adds good flavor. Just spoon a little bit of beans in the middle of your wrap, add some cheese and chili, and fold the edges over. Use some water to keep the edges from unfolding. Now, use a deep fryer or hot oil in a pot. Dunk your burrito in the oil and leave them in there until they are golden brown and bubbly on the outside.
  2. Chicken and Rice Stir Fry Wrap: This is a recipe that you can use with pretty much any foods you like to stir fry with your chicken. I am a huge fan of chicken and broccoli stir fry over rice. Whatever it is you are cooking, just spoon a little bit of it into an egg roll wrap, add some rice, and you have another tasty menu item! Just cook them like I mention with the burritos. This can be a little plain for some peoples tastes, so adding butter to the rice and maybe lemon-pepper to the chicken could kick it up a notch.
  3. Ravioli: You can use whatever ravioli filling you like, albeit spinach and ricotta, or 5 cheese italiano, or a variety of meat. Spoon that into your egg roll wraps, and it makes a convenient ravioli. The instructions say to deep fry them as I’ve mentioned before, but I wouldn’t say its too big of a leap to bake them in the oven. If I was going to try that route, I would probably dip the whole ravioli in water to soften the wrap, and them place them on a baking sheet at 350 degrees until I thought they were done.
  4. Chili Rellenos: I’m going out on a limb here and saying that I’m not doing my Mexican heritage justice by saying I’ve never had one of these. My family and friends swear by them, but I’m afraid the texture will freak me out. This recipe calls for 3 cans of whole green chili (or, if you’d prefer to take the home made route…just cook whole chili from your local market on a skillet until they are blackened, then peel) and the cheese(s) of your choice (I would most likely use cheddar, jack, or colby and I know some people who use cream cheese…which is the part that freaks me out). I won’t go into the details of how to make the filling, but basically just spoon that in like I’ve said before and deep fry. I always put a ton of garlic (and garlic salt) on any chili that I eat, so I would definitely do that here as well.

Those were just a few things out of I’m sure a variety of things you can use egg roll wraps for. Maybe even light and fluffy chips? Well, happy cooking!

How have you creatively used egg roll wraps? Have you tried any of these recipes? What were your favorites?