Saturday, January 28, 2012

Peanut Butter Rice Krispies Treats

This shouldn't be called Baking Extravaganza because there was no actual baking involved. But I'm leaving this sugary deliciousness in the Baking category.

I made peanut butter rice krispies... and they were absolutely delicious! I found the recipe from this pin on Pinterest. Check out the original source on Cooking with K. They're called Corey's Treats on there.

Here's what I started with-- a box of Rice Krispies cereal, Karo syrup, peanut butter, sugar, Hershey's Kisses, a large sauce pan, and wax paper. Super, super important to use wax paper for easy clean-up! I went ahead and lined two baking pans with wax paper so they'd be ready when the mixture was done. (No baking involved, though! Just used these for a nice, flat surface.)

The recipe said this would make 48 treats. So, I counted out 48 Hershey's Kisses. Yes, they're Christmas ones, but they were still good. It's just January, you know. Of course I tested one out for quality assurance.

I unwrapped all 48 kisses. Yummy.

I measured out 4 cups of Rice Krispies. (I recently found this HUGE Pyrex measuring cup in my cabinet. I'd forgotten all about it. I love it!)

Next I added 1 cup Karo syrup and 1 cup sugar to my sauce pan. I brought it to a boil then removed it from heat.

Then I added 2 cups of peanut butter. Two cups of peanut butter equals roughly 1 jar. I stirred it until it was nice and smooth.

Here comes the fun part! Add in the Rice Krispies and stir until they're completely covered. This was easy for awhile--but then the mixture got really thick! My wrist was tired from stirring before I got it all mixed up.

Next, I spooned the mixture on to the wax paper. I didn't end up with quite 48--I think I had 33 in all. I guess I made my treats a little too large. I ended up having to get another plate lined with wax paper to make them all fit.

As soon as I spooned out all the mixture, I pressed a Hershey's Kiss in the center of each treat.

See? Here are the leftover Kisses.

I let them cool completely. And let me tell ya, this was hard--they smelled wonderful!

These little things were absolutely delicious! A perfect little sugary, gooey, chewy treat.

They were dangerous. I had to give a few to my parents and grandparents or I just knew hubby and I would eat the whole batch ourselves. 

I stored these babies in an air-tight Pyrex dish and they held up very well. They didn't dry out at all. Of course, they were gone in two days.

Would I make these again? ABSOLUTELY! They were so, so good. Check out Cooking with K for the full recipe.

Lemon Pepper Chicken Tenders

Okay, this meal was a disaster. Ick, ick, ick.

We attempted to make Lemon Pepper Chicken Tenders. I'd bought some lemon pepper flavored panko bread crumbs at the grocery store. I love lemon pepper chicken from Cheddar's, so I thought I'd like this, too. Wrong!

The first problem was that the chicken didn't thaw all the way. We'd had it in the fridge for at least 36 hours--but it still had some frozen spots. Of course I didn't realize this until after I had all the other ingredients measured out. Chad had said it was thawed, but he was wrong! After running a little bit of cold water over it, I thought it was ready.

I had three bowls--flour, egg, and the panko bread crumbs. I followed the directions on the box and rolled the chicken in each ingredient as specified (flour first, then egg, then panko.) This part was disgusting. I just hate touching raw meat!

I finally finished and put the tenders in a greased baking dish. I baked them at 375 for about 30 minutes. Here's the result.

We also had some green beans and mashed potatoes.

The verdict? I didn't like it at all! The lemon pepper panko was too strong. Plus, I am SO particular about my chicken. I was convinced it wasn't cooked all the way through, so I put some of it back in the oven. That made it even more disgusting.

I couldn't even eat one piece of it. I did like the crunch of the panko, but that's about it. I have some plain, so I'll try that some other time.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Progress Update - Week 3

It's been three full weeks since I've started my endeavors. Time to check in and see how I'm doing.

1. Get Crafty - Check! It didn't turn out exactly as planned, though.

2. Baking Extravaganza - I did it, but I hate to admit I'm the creator of this mess.

3. Cooking for Two - Yep! We actually cooked several nights this week. Here's the yummy chicken casserole.

4. Walk it Off - YES! I did it! I walked all 5 days for at least 30 minutes. I knew cleaning off the treadmill would make me more motivated.

5. Declutter and Organize - Ugh. I'm not liking this one. I've only finished 9 out of 31 things. That means I only did 2 things since last week.

6. Alphabet Dating - No. Still no "K" date. Argh! We can't figure out what we want to do.

7. Read the Word - Yes, I've read the Bible every night! I'm now about halfway through Deuteronomy.

8. Classics - Uh huh. I'm about 60% finished with Wuthering Heights now. I've been listening to it while I walk on the treadmill. I don't enjoy that robot Kindle voice--they could at least make it sound a little more human.

9. Sell, Donate, Toss - I've got several things in both boxes now. I'll take a picture when I get them completely full.

10. Water - Yep! Three glasses a day.

I'm going to HAVE to declutter and organize next week. No excuses.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

When icing attacks!

In the oven this week--cupcakes!

I had a going away party to go to, and I thought I'd bake a batch of cupcakes to take for the kids to enjoy. I had some new colored icing to try out. And what kid doesn't like cupcakes, right?

Well, I'll go ahead and tell you--these cupcakes did not make it to the party. Not because I ate them all myself since they were so scrumptious. But because they looked absolutely hideous, thanks to that funky icing! They don't taste that bad. Oh, but they sure look it!

Anyway, I started with this.

I mixed the ingredients according to the box. I added just a few mini chocolate chips to make the cake more moist.

I lined my cupcake pans with regular white cupcake liners. I had some cool blue and yellow ones I was going to use after they were finished baking.

I baked according to the directions--I think it was 22 minutes on 350. I let them cool in the pans for a little while, then I took them out and placed them on a large baking sheet to cool completely. They sure did smell good!

Here's when it started getting crazy. I had these tubes of Wilton cake decorating icing. It was supposed to be a blue and yellow swirl. It came with two tubes and two decorating tips.

Well, the icing was NOT blue and yellow. It just turned green. And the tube was so hard to squeeze! I could hardly get the stuff to come out. The first one didn't turn out so bad.

But as I kept squeezing, things got worse and worse. The tip clogged up. The icing wouldn't come out of the tube. It had air bubbles. Needless to say, it was not a pretty sight.

I only finished about 8 of them with one tube of icing. I moved on to the other tube and the other tip. This decorating tip was even worse! Aaaahh! I ran out of icing with three cupcakes leftover. See how awful they look?

I thought I'd just spread the frosting across the cupcakes. They wouldn't have that piped look, but at least the cake would be covered. That didn't work either! The icing was so hard and thick that it just ripped the top of the cupcake off. I gave up.

I decided to melt a little peanut butter, chocolate chips, and sugar in a bowl.

I dipped the last three cupcakes in that mixture and sprinkled a few chocolate chips on top. They at least looked better than the others.

This did NOT turned out as planned. No, no, no. I don't think I'd ever had such a hideous batch of cupcakes before. They don't taste bad--the cake is nice and moist and the icing has a decent enough flavor. But are they visually pleasing? Ha! Absolutely not. At least I didn't waste my fancy cupcake liners, though.

I think I'm going to stay away from the icing in a tube from now on. Let's hope that next week's baking has a much better result!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Conversation Heart Art

Another Pinterest inspired craft! This week--Conversation Heart Art!

I got my inspiration from this pin. The link on the pin doesn't take you to the original source, though. Check out the original source at My Creative Departure.

Here are my materials. Just some tacky glue, 8x10 picture frame, and a bag of conversation hearts.

I really wish I'd bought name brand conversation hearts. This bag was from Dollar Tree. There were just a few different colors and they were all pastel--not brights like you find in a normal bag. Plus, the candy is a lot softer than regular conversation hearts. So I'm a little bit worried that it will disintegrate before Valentine's Day even comes! Oh well. Time will tell.

First I took the glass out of the frame and cleaned it with Windex.

I skipped over the whole part about painting the frame. I like black frames.

Next, I opened up the candy and poured the conversation hearts on a paper towel.

See how light they are? They were also very chalky--meaning they leave residue on your fingers. Plus, the words are just etched in--not in a different color. That made me sad, but I continued anyway.

I started placing my candy on the glass and made a heart outline.

It wasn't exactly centered (but in hindsight, it was pretty darn close!), so I took the hearts off the glass. I drew a heart outline on the paper towel and put the glass on top of it.

I started filling up the outline again.

I glued the outline down before I started filling in the heart. I left all the candies in place and picked them up one at a time. I put a little dab of tacky glue on the back of the candy and pushed it down on the glass. I pressed firmly for a couple of seconds before moving on to the next heart.

After my outline was glued, I started rearranging the candies in the center. This was a little bit like a puzzle. You had to turn the hearts various ways to get them all to fit.

I followed the same procedure as the outline. I picked up only one conversation heart at a time, put a dab of glue on it, and put it back in place before moving on to the next one. This was tricky! The hearts were so close together it was a little hard to lift them up and squeeze them back in. Plus, sometimes I forgot which ones I'd already glued.

The whole process of organizing and gluing all the conversation hearts took about 2 hours. Aaahhh! Here's what it looks like from the back. You can see the glue.

I noticed there was a bit of a funky space down at the bottom. I didn't like that.

So I pulled up that bottom conversation heart and turned it sideways. That left a bit of residue and it crumbled just a tiny bit, but I don't think it left a noticeable flaw. I like the placement much more. I let it dry overnight.

I didn't have a nice colored wall to put my Conversation Heart Art up against, so I wanted some sort of background. I don't have any fancy scrapbook paper, so I printed out four different text boxes on my my printer and held it behind the glass. I decided I liked the purple the best. The bright pinks were just all wrong and the light pink blended in to much.

I had to trim the paper just a bit to get it to fit into the frame.

The edges are still hanging out, but I didn't mind since the back wouldn't be showing.

I like the purple behind it. It's a nice contrast.

All done! The lighting isn't great. I think it looks better in person than it does in the picture.

I wish I had the better quality conversation hearts--I think I would've LOVED it then. For now, I like it okay. Maybe I'll like it more when I have it up on the mantle with other Valentine's Day decorations. I just hope the candy holds up until then!

Would I make it again? Probably not, at least not using those same conversation hearts. But it's a nice seasonal project and I like getting my craft on each week. Hopefully I'll have another Valentine's Day craft to share next week.

Kung Pao Pork

Yes... another one for Week 3! Except I didn't do the cooking this time. It was Chad.

I'd bought a pound of Boston butt pork steak at the grocery store. I had no idea how to cook it--but it was cheap so I thought we'd give it a try. I looked up some recipes that included grilling it with some basic seasoning. I'd planned on doing that, but Chad had something else in mind.

He used soy sauce, Kung Pao sauce, and pepper.

He marinated it in the fridge for a few hours.

He cut off a LOT of fat and bone--seriously. Like probably 75% of it was no good. He put the rest in a skillet with some oil and cooked it. He also made some white rice.

It looked good!

But this was definitely not my favorite meal. The flavor was good, but the meat was all wrong. I'm pretty sure it's because of the kind of pork it was. No wonder it was so cheap. This meal would've been tasty if I'd bought a higher quality cut of pork.

I love my husband for cooking, though!