If Wilton gave you $30….

…what goodies would you get?

I’ve taken 3 Wilton classes so far, and somewhere in there I got randomly selected to take a survey for a gift certificate for Wilton goodies! Originally, it was $20, which was generous! However, when I got my form in, they gave me $30 to cover shipping/taxes!! SCORE!!

So, I wanted some fun goodies and useful things as well. If I could, I’d get all sprinkles because those are just fun! However, I wanted some useful items I could use in my decorating too. I ended up getting a hybrid of both…check out the stash!


* Bake Even Strips
* Flower Lifter
* Candy Dipping Set
* White Sparkling Sugars
* White Nonpareils

I’m so excited about using the Bake Even Strips, especially, because I’m making my future nephew in law (I guess you can say)…a TIERED birthday cake full of elephants and jungle fun. So, I think these little strips will come in handy, and even though I haven’t taken tiered cakes yet, I have a feeling I can handle stacking two cakes. I have the instructions after all…how hard can it be?

Local Exchange!!

My WC sister (and dear friend!), Sarah, and I decided to do a foodie gift exchange filled with food local to our area. I’m from New Orleans area, and this is what I sent her.

I have to say I am SO excited about the gifts that she sent me…check out the spread here!!

Shoofly Pie Mix, Peanut Caramel Popcorn, Cider mix, apple butter…

Whole Wheat Pretzel mix, Maple candies, Honey filled lemon candies..

Woo!! What an awesome bunch of gifts, Sarah!! I can’t wait to make the shoofly pie. I have honestly never heard of this but the google images made me drool a little yesterday. I will definitely keep y’all updated on how everything goes!!

Sarah and I agreed we should totally do this again. This was so much fun!!!

Smothered Chicken

I’ve been challenging myself to cook more often when I’m at my fiance’s house. Lately, the cooking has been so-so until now. This recipe has been the BEST recipe I’ve made, and it’s Weight Watchers friendly!!! I made this using the non-crockpot method, because we didn’t want the meat too tender. My fiance requested rice with this dish, instead of pasta as well, which was a WONDERFUL combination :).

I was given this recipe from a knottie on my club board. It was a pdf form of Weight Watchers recipes, so I don’t really know the original source, however, I will say this isn’t mine. I did adapt it, though, for more flavor.

Smothered Chicken
adapted from Weight Watchers Crockpot recipe pdf (from a knottie)

Ingredients:

  • 4 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 12 ounces Mushrooms — fresh
  • 1 can 98% fat-free Cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can 98% fat-free Cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can French Onion Soup
  • 1/2 onion (added)
  • 1 clove garlic (added)

Directions:

  1. Cut chicken breasts into stew size chunks, and sauté while washing and cutting mushrooms in half. Then simply add all other ingredients to chicken and simmer about 1 hour (I did this for half an hour covered and half an hour uncovered). You can also do this in a crock pot and simmer all day ’til dinner. Serve over rice, noodles or potatoes.

This makes 6 servings.


Check out our new funky plates. They match our kitchen perfectly!

Here’s a zoom-in of the yumminess!

Points* (without rice): 7

Since I had 1 cup of brown rice with mine, this dinner was 11 points. Yep, a little on the high side, but this was some SERIOUS comfort food. :) I will be making this again when the fall comes!!

Sugar Cookies: The search continues…

I’ve been searching for the PERFECT sugar cookie. While I like the sugar cookies I’ve made, I’ve been searching for a cookie that my fiance LOVES (and I can roll out into cute shapes). I bought my fiance a cookie bouquet for our anniversary, and he seemed to really like those. So, I searched for a cookie bouquet copycat recipe, and thisis what I found. (you will need to scroll down for the recipe)

Anyways, I decided to bite the bullet, and make them today. I shudder at the thought of crisco in baking, but I didn’t want to substitute anything. So, I made them as is (with a SMALL substitution). See, I made vanilla sugar two weeks ago, and I wanted to actually use it in a recipe. This stuff is amazing and the cute little black specks make me forget about the crisco in the recipe (ok, maybe not)…

Turns out, this makes a REALLY soft cookie that doesn’t spread very much. I didn’t brown these cookies..they came out at JUST the right time. I did make these in two pans, one on parchment on the middle shelf (cookies on the right) and one with baking spray on the top shelf (cookies to the left).

I think these work best on the middle shelf, especially if you want to decorate the cookies. There is little to no cracks when you do it this way :). However, these are a little TOO sticky to roll out into shapes, and aren’t as dense as the cookie bouquet cookies. Don’t get me wrong…these tasted GREAT and the vanilla sugar gave the cookies a wonderful flavor!! Check them out!!


Anyways, enough talk already…here is the recipe!


Cookies by Design Sugar Short Bread Cookies
Source: Cooking Light forum (link above)

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Whip sugar and shortening in a large bowl, add eggs and beat well. Add remaining ingredients and mix. Knead dough into ball, roll out and cut. Place on cookie sheet in oven and bake at 350 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes.

This makes a ton of dough…I made 24 cookies (about 2-3 inches in diameter when done) and I think that was a little over half of the dough, so I will say this makes 40 cookies.

Do I DARE give you the POINTS on these per serving? It’s actually not that bad..especially considering Weight Watchers’ sugar cookie recipe is the same amount of points per cookie!!

Points*: 3 (this was calculated using eTools so it only gives me points values but 1 point is about 50-60 calories to give you an idea)

Stay tuned…the search continues… :D. I think the next recipe I will try comes from my cookie decorating cookbook that I purchased shortly after the holiday season last year.

Fondant & Gumpaste Flowers

I recently took Wilton’s Fondant & Gumpaste class, and we were shown how to make flowers with gumpaste. I love gumpaste…it can be molded so thin and it’s flexible. It also dries super fast! Here are some pictures of my carnations and fantasy flowers…enjoy!!


Carnation with pearl dust in pink brushed on.

This is the fantasy flower with the same pearl dust brushed on.

Vanilla MADNESS!

Check out my vanilla extract after a little over 2 months later…I made two batches…one for my family’s house and one for my fiance’s house..it looks great and I can’t wait to bake with it!! See the extract before a good 2 month soak here. I’m gonna keep the beans soaking in there for longer, but that rich amber color shows me that it’s already ready!!

My newest project with these fine beans is making some vanilla sugar for gifts around the holidays. Target was charging $1.99 for maybe 3 oz. of vanilla infused sugar, and with so many uses for it, I’m sure it will be a great gift for the coworkers…I love giving homemade items. Last year was truffles and pretzels (which I’ll probably continue anyway)…but I want to add vanilla sugar to the mix with some fun recipe ideas! I followed Culinary Concoctions proportions for the vanilla sugar in her post here.

Bubble Tea = Love

This isn’t a blog entry about me cooking. It’s more about my mild obsession…that I miss SO much! When I was a resident assistant in the apartments on campus, one of the girls SWORE by this smoothie that she drank. She said it was so sweet, and it had these gummy surprise beads in it. I told her that I had to try it…I love smoothies! The place we went to had about 30 flavors of smoothies, and you could COMBINE flavors. They were mostly fruit…so needless to say, I was in heaven. I tried a strawberry coconut with the tapioca beads. I thought it was SO cool when they took the smoothie and vacuum sealed a lid on it. I felt like a giddy kid punching my extra large straw through (it allows for the beads to come out with the smoothie). Anyways, after many trips there, I was in bliss. Then, I graduated college…and I didn’t have bubble tea for a year or so, until NOW!

There I was, getting my hair highlighted, and my hairdresser told me that his boyfriend’s family was opening a bubble tea place. OMG OMG WHAT? It was a town away, and let me tell you, the week it opened, I went. I ordered a kiwi bubble tea. They did the same thing there…vacuum sealed top, tapioca beads, the big mega straw for the blend of beads and smoothie sippage. I thought for a moment there, well, this is bliss!

Anyways, here are some pictures of bubble tea….seriously consider trying this stuff. You can get HOOKED. If you are interested in making it at home, here is a website of supplies and kits. :)

The tapioca beads are the black balls at the bottom. I had a kiwi bubble tea here, and it maybe lasted me 5 minutes. I miss bubble tea!

Turkey Enchilada Pie

I officially rejoined Weight Watchers last Monday. I’ve been really good on my diet this week. Totally within points, and I’ve worked out 5 days in a row using Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred DVD (which I highly recommend!!).

Anyways, being a member of Weight Watchers means I have an eTools membership. So, points values* will be determined using that tool instead of SparkRecipes. Along with that, eTools gives me GREAT W/W friendly recipes that I can adapt (and it will count points as I adapt). So, here is my first recipe that I made for Joey and I last night.

To me, it was spicy and I wish I would have used green chiles instead of jalapenos. I also cut this into 8 wedges instead of 6. (didn’t read directions well so I ate less points than I thought for supper)

Before I show the results of this dish, I want to give a shout-out to Rachael Ray (yes, I *heart* her!). This Furi tool pictured below, rocks my world in chopping vegetables. I usually cut myself a lot with using knives, and with this tool, my hands are safely on the grip! :) I found it (with cutting board) for $15 at Tuesday Morning!!


Look at how fine that chop is…I’m wowed by myself!!

Turkey Enchilada Pie
Source: Weight Watchers

Ingredients:

  • 1 sprays cooking spray
  • 3/4 pound lean ground turkey (used 1 lb.)
  • 1 medium onion(s), chopped
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fat-free skim milk (used lowfat at FI’s request)
  • 4 oz canned jalapeno peppers, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 large burrito-size wheat flour tortilla(s)
  • 3 cup tomato(es), chopped (omitted because I’m a creole tomato snob and they are out of season for the year :( )
  • 10 Tbsp low-fat shredded cheddar cheese (used 2% mexican blend cheese)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray. Heat skillet over medium heat. Place turkey, onion and chili powder in skillet and cook until turkey is browned, stirring occasionally to break up meat, about 8 minutes. Remove turkey mixture from skillet and set aside.
  2. Place skillet over medium-high heat and add flour. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium; simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes.
  3. Remove skillet from heat; stir in turkey mixture, jalapenos and cumin.
  4. Wrap tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave on HIGH until softened, about 15 seconds. Place 1 tortilla in bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. Spread 1/3 of turkey mixture over tortilla. Spoon 1 cup of tomato on top and sprinkle with 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of cheese. Repeat layers with remaining ingredients ending up with 2 tablespoons of cheese.
  5. Cover pie plate with aluminum foil and cook until cheese melts and filling is warmed through, about 15 minutes. Let stand, covered, 2 minutes before cutting into 6 wedges.


Here is the pie out the oven :)

Check out how gooey those layers look…YUMMY!

Points*: 6

The site provided says it’s 4 points but eTools’ recipe link (which I can’t give because W/W has recipes in flash so bleh…) says 6…so I would calculate 6 to be safe here!

Slow Cooker Zesty BBQ Chicken

Last weekend, I was off and I wanted to blow Joey’s socks off with some killer food. We had chicken breasts in the freezer and a slow cooker for me to use while I was running errands…I found this recipe on All Recipes and was NOT disappointed…this chicken literally fell apart and shred beautifully into some TASTY bbq chicken sandwiches…mmm…


Not at all attractive looking…kinda looks like dog food actually but I promise it’s good!!


Check out how well it shreds…we used a fork with little effort!! mmmm…

Zesty Slow Cooker Chicken BBQ
Source: AllRecipes

Ingredients:

  • 4 frozen skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2/3 (12 ounce) bottle barbeque sauce (We used Jack Daniels original sauce)
  • 1/3 cup Italian salad dressing (I used Fat Free Dressing to lighten it up a bit)
  • 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions:

Place chicken in a slow cooker. In a bowl, mix the barbeque sauce, Italian salad dressing, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the chicken. Cover, and cook 3 to 4 hours on High or 6 to 8 hours on Low.

Serves 8…these breasts can easily split into two servings!!

Nutritional Information:
Calories 206.3
Fat 1.6g
Fiber 0.1g

POINTS*: 4

**add standard whole wheat hamburger bun for 2-3 points and easily have an entree for 6-7 points**

Summer Exchange!!

As an engaged girl, I found the website, theknot.com. For the newlyweds who used the Knot, you then have the choice to move over to thenest.com. This site helps couples with everything they encounter in their married lives :). The resources there are absolutely wonderful!!

I stumbled across the Nest forums by chance. Around Christmas, I was looking for a sugar cookie recipe, and there is a “What’s Cooking?” board on the Nest. So, I lurked on there for ideas, and it seemed like SUCH a nice board. So, I stayed and started posting :). I’ve been there since.

Every season, one of the nesties, Joelen , hosts a gift exchange for the board. It’s a great way to just have a nice foodie surprise in the mailbox, and today, I got mine!!

Thanks to I&R.4.23.06!!! She sent me silicone spatulas, a cookie scoop, a silicone basting/pastry brush, and a pack of cake tips. These are gadgets I needed, and cake tips, you can never have enough of those. AND, what I’m also excited about, Penzey’s spices!! I got Northwoods seasonings, Cake Spice and Hot Chocolate mix :). She also gave me some lotion and body spray in peony (such a beautiful flower!)


Check out the spread!! Thanks so much, Intisar!!