Men and potlucks aren’t the best combination

Here’s a conversation I had with my husband yesterday:

Me: Are you working in Iowa City tomorrow?

Scott: Planning on it.

Me: Good. I’m making snacks. You can take them in.

Scott: Oh, for our potluck?

Me: I didn’t know you were having a potluck. I just felt like making treats.

Scott: Cool. I was thinking about bringing the rest of the German chocolate cake.

This was a cake he made Monday. It’s very good. It’s also nearly gone.

Me: You can’t take something we’ve eaten most of to a potluck!

I don’t understand how guys think.

I whipped up a Cherry Cheesecake Dip yesterday. It took less than 10 minutes, but it tastes like you slaved over it. Thank you, Pinterest, for leading me to this recipe!

CHERRY CHEESECAKE DIPcherry cheesecake dip

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 7-ounce container of marshmallow fluff
  • 2 containers of Cool Whip
  • 1 box of graham crackers
  • 2 cans of cherry pie filling

Crush one sleeve of graham crackers. Spread crumbs on the bottom of two 8-by-8 pans (or one 8-by-12 pan). Don’t pack the crumbs; all you need is a nice even layer.

In a bowl, mix together a block of softened cream cheese and marshmallow fluff until smooth. Using a spoon or a spatula, add the Cool Whip one tub at a time.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two pans. Use a clean spoon or frosting knife to gently smooth the mixture to the corners of the dish. Work slowly and carefully so not to disturb the crumbs on the bottom.

Top each pan with a can of cherry pie filling.

Break up remaining graham crackers and serve with the dip, or cover and store in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Recipe courtesy of: http://www.shellythemomager.blogspot.com via Pinterest

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Just pin it!

I love Pinterest. I’ve killed many hours pinning ideas for dinner, my daughter’s birthday party and future vacations.

Like many fans, I’m guilty of pinning first and … well, what happens after pinning?

I started a board to identify all the things from Pinterest I actually tried. There aren’t many things pinned to that board – yet – but I love moving a pin from one board to the “I did it” board. It’s like an illustrated “To do” list – with yummy results!

I had a few friends over last weekend and needed some simple snack ideas. This appetizer may just be the most popular recipe in Pinterest, considering the number of re-pins its received. I only had two Lit’l Smokies leftover, so they’re be on to something!

BACON WRAPPED SMOKIES WITH BROWN SUGAR AND BUTTERbacon-wrapped lil smokies

  • 1 pound Bacon, cut into thirds
  • 1 pound Lit’l Smokies
  • 1 stick Butter
  • 2 cups Brown Sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the bacon into thirds and wrap each Lit’l Smokie.

Place all the wrapped Lit’l Smokies in a single layer in a baking dish. Then melt the stick of butter and then 1 cup of brown sugar and stir until mixed well. Pour the butter and brown sugar mixture on the Lit’l Smokies and bacon. Then take the other cup of brown sugar and sprinkle evenly over the Lit’l Smokies.

Bake them for about 15 to 20 minutes and then turn the heat up to 400 degrees for about 5 minutes or longer until the bacon becomes crispy.

Recipe courtesy of tastykitchen.com via Pinterest

“Comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love.”

Actually, I’m a little sick of apples. Especially peeling and coring them. I should have invested in one of those little contraptions that does it for you, but I’m on a kitchen utensil hiatus for the time being. Read on to find out why.

Day 12: Curried Chicken with Apples

So we all know I have a cookbook addiction. The first step is admitting you have a problem. The second step is to do something about it.

I’m not in a hurry to get moving on that second step.

I made a New Year’s Resolution to get rid of any cookbook in my personal collection that does not have enough recipes to justify leaving it on the bookshelf. In the 2 years, 10 months that have passed since I made that resolution, I have gotten rid of two cookbooks.

Two.

I’m not going to tell you how many I’ve purchased (‘cause my husband reads this blog). It doesn’t help that I receive cookbooks at work, too. Those stay at the office unless I bring them home to cook with for a review.

I’m surrounded by my obsession!

So what does all of this have to do with the Apple Challenge? Well, I bought Jenny Rosenstrach’s “Dinner: A Love Story” a few months ago. This cookbook is the result of a website Rosenstrach launched in 2010 dedicated to the family dinner. Her hope was that the recipes and stories she shared would help families stop dreading the preparation of the evening meal and embrace it at as an experience.

We’ve all been there, right? It’s 6 p.m. on a Tuesday night. We’re tired. We have to take the kids to choir or art or basketball in an hour – can’t we get away with cold cereal for one night?

This is a cookbook that reads like a diary. I kept it by my bedside table for weeks, marking recipes to try, before taking it in the kitchen to experiment.

This may just be my new favorite cookbook. The recipes are delicious, simple and FAST! I needed an apple recipe just like that during the whole apple cake saga, so I made Curried Chicken with Apples.

Yum!

Rosenstrach calls this a starter curry, as she never makes it the same way twice. I’m pretty happy with it as is. Give it a try and tell me of any additions you made!

CURRIED CHICKEN WITH APPLES

  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons oil (olive or canola)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 large stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 large apple (such as Fuji, Granny Smith), peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 3 to 4 medium-size boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size cubes
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup light coconut milk
  • Handful of frozen peas (optional)
  • Few dollops of plain yogurt

Heat the oil in a deep, large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until it begins to soften, about 2 minutes.

Add the garlic, celery, apple and ginger. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes and then add the curry powder, stirring to combine.

Push the ingredients to one side of the pan, add a little more oil, and brown chicken on both sides. (If your pan is too stuffed, you can do this in two batches.) Stir all of the ingredients together, then add the broth and the coconut milk. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the peas (if using) then cover and cook about 10 more minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Serve with basmati rice or flatbread and top with a dollop of yogurt and desired garnishes. (Suggested garnishes: Chopped cilantro or mint, sliced almonds or cashews.)

Recipe courtesy of Dinner: A Love Story: It All Begins at the Family Table by Jenny Rosenstrach

Day 13: Apple-Cranberry Breakfast Cookies

I started running again last week.

I’ve been trying to get back to where I was in my running regime when my running buddy moved to Alabama. I start, get so close, and then stop.

OK, the last time I stopped it was because I was freaked out. I run at 5:30 a.m. Now that my husband and I are addicted to “The Walking Dead,” I have a serious fear that a zombie will attack me as I’m running. I tried to run in the evening, but for some reason it hurts my body to run at night, so I stopped (because I hate running on the track at the gym).

Stupid, I know, but at least I didn’t become a slug during my last break. No, I wasn’t running, but I was strength-training. When I decided my neighborhood wasn’t filled with zombies, I was able to bounce back pretty quickly because my legs were stronger.

Yay me!

That being said, I need to attack my eating habits, so I whipped up some Weight Watchers recipes a few days ago.

I like these cookies. My daughter does not.

APPLE-CRANBERRY BREAKFAST COOKIES

  • ¼ cup margarine, no-salt variety
  • ¾ cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 ½ cups whole-grain wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ cups uncooked quick oats
  • ½ cup dried apples, chopped
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup dried walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine margarine and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer; beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add eggs and beat for 30 seconds; add applesauce and beat just to mix.

In another bowl, stir together flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda; add to mixer and beat to form batter. Add oats, apples, cranberries and walnuts; combine by hand.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or coat with cooking spray. Drop batter by heaping tablespoons 1 inch apart. Bake until cookies are lightly browned and firm, about 13 to 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes. Move to wire rack and cool completely. Yields 1 cookie per serving. (Note: Store leftovers in an airtight plastic bag or container in the freezer.)

Recipe courtesy of www.weightwatchers.com

Day 14: Raw Apple Snack

I stumbled across a blog of juice recipes a few weeks ago and have been obsessed with owning a juicer ever since.

My husband wasn’t thrilled with the idea. He pointed out all the other kitchen utensils I own and rarely use. He has a point, but with a juicer we could FINALLY consume the recommended daily number of fruits and vegetables, but in an awesome juice form that wouldn’t taste like spinach and broccoli.

He wasn’t convinced, so when I purchased a juicer (It was on sale! And I had a 30 percent off coupon!), I knew I’d have to hide it from him until the time was right.

He found it two days later.

In hindsight, hiding the juicer in the car trunk was not my brightest idea. Neither is the fact that it has sat, unopened, in our pantry since I bought it.

Determined to prove that juicer was not the rice cooker or the Chocolate Factory or even the Magic Bullet, I got it out to make fresh-squeezed orange juice and apple juice for Sunday’s apple recipe (which is a huge hit on Pinterest right now).

I think I’m going to have to use it 30 to 100 million more times to prove that this kitchen utensil will change our lives.

Raw Apple Snack

  • 1 to 2 apples – select a sweet apple like Fuji or Gala (I used Fuji and Honey Crisp)
  • 1 medium orange
  • 1 medium lemon

Juice lemon and orange into a small bowl.

Slice the apple into thin slices.

Place slices into juice bowl and make sure the juice is all over the apple slices. Place bowl in fridge for 30 minutes to 2 hours

Remove from fridge, serve and enjoy!

Note: You can use a green apple in place of one of the other apples to give the plate some contrast for your guests. A green apple will make the snack even more tart.

Recipe courtesy of www.letstalkfitness.com