Category Archives: Recipes

Can’t Find Your Favorite Holiday Treat? CHILL.

This year my husband has checked every major grocery store in our county (that is a huge number of grocery stores) trying to find his all-time favorite cookie, available only at this time of year: White Chocolate Covered Oreos. Finally I bought some plain Oreos and dunked them in white candy bark before he had a full-on meltdown. Michael doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth. He enjoys desserts on special occasions, but not having cookies, candy, etc around the house isn’t any hardship for him. But when the Santa cookie jar comes out it needs to be filled with these particular cookies. The problem is that their manufacturer, ____, has encouraged this addiction, and now these are our options:
oreo-options
You see, Oreos arent’t made in the USA anymore. They are made in Mexico by Mondelēz Intl. So unless you really want to pay $10 a box for cookies you got for less than half that a couple of years ago you’ll need the Oreo Truffles recipe to follow . . .

Thank goodness for Jamie Shell and her daughter, Brianna! They introduced me to Oreo Truffles at Jamie’s Nerium launch party. I double-dog dare anyone to eat one of these without making a yummy sound. Seriously, they are that good! They shared their recipe, and couldn’t believe how easy they were to make.
truffles
Bri’s Oreo Truffles (printable version)

  • One box original Oreos (or store brand, or the Trader Joe version without hydrogenated oil!)
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • White (or red, or whatever) Bark Coating from the baking aisle. It looks like this:

bark

  1. Crumble cookies by hand or with mixer or food processor.
  2. Mix softened cream cheese and cookie crumbles with mixer or food processor until it can be shaped into balls.
  3. Scoop or pat into balls the size of ping-pong balls.
  4. Place on waxed paper and freeze until solid enough to hold their shape, but not too frozen to insert a skewer or fork.
  5. Melt bark coating in the microwave or with a double-boiler. Unless you are really fast only melt two or three blocks at a time if you’re working alone. If you can draft a child or other friend or family member double that!
  6. Dip the cookie/cream cheese balls into the coating with the instrument of your choice and swirl to coat, then place on waxed paper again and CHILL.
  7. While all those lovely treats are chilling in the fridge it’s time to put your feet up and read a Christmas book, listen to your favorite Holiday music, or just sit and share stories with a friend if you’ve done this together (which I suggest).
  8. Once you can touch the top without leaving a fingerprint you can get fancy and use colored icing to make trees, snowflakes, menorahs, or anything else since these taste just as good all year!

This is my “chill” entry into Mama Kat’s Writers’ Workshop this week. Join in with your own prompt or drop by and read some others – or both!

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Fast, Frugal, Family Comfort Food Any Time!

Who else feels like the first month or so of school each year is just crazy? I’d love to say, “Not my circus, not my monkeys!” and throw up a well-manicured hand. But this is my circus, and those are my monkeys! (And I haven’t had a manicure in almost eighteen years – LOL!) So, as in the wild, show no fear, no stress. Then, when the whole family is at home for supper, or possibly even awake at the same time for breakfast (gasp!) gather ’round for some comfort food.
v2hero-image
I tease my son about being physically attached to his phone (he sleeps with it in his hand, like his brother before him) but maybe I should keep mine closer and download a few more apps. Meijer’s mPerks app, for example.

I knew it would find me coupons, so I waited until I’d found everything before I pulled out my phone. Here are the awesome coupons I found:

  • $0.75 off 1 Hungry Jack pancake & waffle mix
  • $0.75 off 1 Jif Flavored Spread
  • $0.75 off 1 Hungry Jack syrup

v2mperksBut waiting until I was in the store and had already shopped to download the app cost me about fifteen minutes and a lot of muttered curses. Why? I downloaded the wrong coupon for pancake mic, because I was buying the Hungry Jack Complete version. “Just add water” – that’s my kind of recipe! And I couldn’t find the peanut butter aisle! The mPerks app pulls it up in a hot second. But why is it in aisle 13?
jif-spread-shopping
I consider Jif Peanut Butter to be essential to life. It should be on that endcap at the front of the store where they have eggs, milk, and bread. If the Zombie Apocalypse is coming I’m stockpiling peanut butter. If I have to go too far into the store odds are I’m going to get bitten. But perhaps the Zombie Apocalypse has already started and I didn’t notice because they don’t want people, they want peanut butter! This could be a serious problem! It’s a good thing Meijer has placed their Jif products on the end of the aisle!#thingsIworryabout But the peanut powder – it’s even better. I can add some to my morning coffee so it’s coffee with protein (8 mg for 3 TBSP).

OK, so three entire tablespoons made a sort of pudding in the bottom of the cup, but once I poured in cup number two (that’s my limit) it was all good. And I was 8 grams further toward my 60 gram goal for the day than I would normally have been on a busy morning! But on those relaxed mornings the peanut powder goes into the Hungry Jack Pancake Mix. For each tablespoon of peanut butter you add, add that much water, so the pancakes stay nice and fluffy.
mix reg and peanut butter
Now we’ve all seen the profiles of celebrities done as pancakes, but I suspect those people have way too much free time. First thing to remember: Do everything in mirror image.
mirror image J
These are all on an electric skillet set at 325 and covered with melted butter. Wait about 20-30 seconds (until fully set) to add second layer if you’re doing pancake art. When you see bubbles everywhere on the surface but the edges have not yet started to brown . . . FLIP!
ready to flip
This will only take about 30 seconds, and it’s fine to lift up an edge to check browning. Then, after you lift them off,everyone can get creative.
plated
Since I was a little girl my Dad always had his pancakes with peanut butter in between and syrup on top. That’s been my favorite way until now! If I have peanut butter in the pancakes (and one tablespoon will lightly flavor about six pancakes) then why not have something wonderful in-between them? With the help of my fellow peanut-butter-and-jelly lover, John, I selected strawberry preserves and Hungry Jack Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Flavored Syrup for our peanut butter pancakes. It was fabulous! John, being a teen, couldn’t even wait to get to the table to try his. He was a blur of pancake theft!
teen sneaking pancakes
Once our tummies were full my husband started playing around, being artistic with the batter. Here’s his version of a face:
john lennon pancake
and his favorite band’s logo:
rush pancake
Leftovers tasted wonderful whether microwaved or toasted, and it wasn’t 48 hours until we were all ready for pancakes again! This time we teamed them with my husband’s fabulous scrambled eggs (mine are always overdone). And each of us had a laugh when we first saw the happy pour-spout of the microwavable syrup. And later, when it was time for my son to go to work, I found him layering the Jif Spread generously over a pancake, rolling it up like a crepe, and running out the door.
smiley syrup lid
Truly, how much better could a day start? Or end? Now let’s do a little review: Download the mPerks app, snag some coupons, and organize your grocery list by aisle (this makes my OCD tendencies so happy!). Make sure you have included Hungry Jack pancake mix and syrup on your list, and take your time choosing. Every single one looks scrumptious!
mix and syrup
See, that view looks simple. Now try this one:
v2pancake-aisle-floorYes, just stand on the square and make your selection. Why don’t other companies do this? “Look at your feet for meal suggestions”, “Let your toes do the shopping!” OK, maybe not in the produce aisle – that would be gross.

No go make your own creation! Will you try Hungry Jack Complete Extra Light and Fluffy with Jif Cinnamon Spread and Hungry Jack Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Syrup, like we did? (Imagine a huge, moist Snickerdoodle!) What are you going to create?

Staying Cool

I know there are places more uncomfortable than the Ohio Valley in the summertime, but most of them are tourist destinations in the spring and fall and everyone goes somewhere else for August. The heat, humidity, and allergens would make a saint grumpy.

I started having hot flashes many years ago, but my OB/GYN insisted it was just stress. She worked at the same hospital I did and heard my name paged overhead 24/7. Once the hot flashes finally ended I had gastric sleeve surgery, and the rapid weight loss put my hormones into a tizzy and I ended up with teenage acne and hot flashes at the same time. SO unfair!

A woman having a hot flash using a fan to cool off.

I will be fifty later this year, so I didn’t have air-conditioning at home until I got married. I had air conditioning in middle school and high school, but only in about 2/3 of my college classrooms and none of my dorms.

I have multiple chronic spinal issues, and chronic inflammation should always be treated with COLD, not heat, no matter the time of year. So I’m a bit of an expert. Here are my tips on keeping cool:

Evaporation. Don’t dry off after your shower (unless there is a teen in the house who would need therapy after seeing his mother naked). And for the love of God don’t blow-dry or heat-style your hair. Put in some leave-in product and let it go.

Layers of cotton or “wicking” fabric. All loose, and in light colors. You may hate your upper arms when you start yard-saleing at 8 a.m., but you really won’t care by 10, and your bra will be in the back seat by noon.

Box fans. There’s a reason they still sell these – they work! In fact, they work much better than the high-tech, expensive fans. Buy several.
box fan
Alcohol-based cold packs. I like to combine rubbing alcohol and floral gel beads for an eight-hour cold-pack (no kidding). No matter how many ziplocks or other bags you put it in it’s going to leak eventually, though.

Gel-packs. These don’t stay cold as long, but they freeze back faster, remain flexible, and don’t leak. Great for errands with no AC in the car.

Hair away from the face, neck, and back. You can wear it down and styled when it gets cooler. Right now sweaty hair stuck to your face just makes you look more like a hot mess.
Messy-Bun
No makeup. Waterproof mascara if you feel the need, but anything else is just going to get sweated off. But wear some sunscreen, even if it’s overcast.

Cold food. Frozen grapes and bananas, chilled watermelon and cantaloupe, iced coffee, and gazpacho or other cold soups. Stick with plain water unless you’re really sweating like a pig. Then, alternate water with Gatorade or something else with electrolytes. Drink like it’s your job.
gazpacho
Ice water and hand towel. Not in the office or on your way to a job interview, obviously. But if you are working outside fill a small cooler with ice, add water, and soak a hand-towel in it. Wrap it around your neck, wipe your face, wet down your hair. Rinse, repeat. Once the ice has melted take a break and start over.

Take breaks. Make the timer on your phone your friend. I can’t sit, stand, or walk for more than 15 minutes on the best of days without expecting to pay a large price the next couple of days, so my timer is always set for 15 minutes. When it goes off, I go lie down (with water, in front of a box fan) until I feel like getting up again. It may be 15 minutes later, or it may be a couple of hours later. Listen to your body.

There were a lot of great prompts over at Mama Kat’s Writers Workshop this week. Go check them out (Tue post) and link up (Thur post)!

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