Sunday, November 18, 2012

Halloween {or Fall} Puppy Chow

Six months later, here I am again with another recipe that I found from Pinterest. I have never made puppy chow before today but I grew up with my mom making it all the time for the holidays. It is so good and this recipe is somewhat easy. This came from the blog:

I didn't take any pictures of this and my kitchen was a disaster afterwards because let's face it-I'm not the cleanest or most organized cook. 

What You'll Need:
  • 9 cups of Cinnamon Chex cereal (or any rice cereal brand but I recommend the cinnamon flavor)
  • 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (or 4 tablespoons) of butter
  • 1 tsp of unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
  • one cup of Reese's peanut butter candies (the ones like the M&M's) Or, you can use any other candy
What You'll Do:
  • the original recipe suggests lining a cookie sheet with wax paper for "easy" clean up. I would do this if you are a messy cook like me
  • pour your 9 cups of cereal into a large bowl. You'll want the large bowl to be big enough so you can coat the cereal in a minute. Set aside 
  • put chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter into a small microwaveable bowl. Heat for about 2 minutes and stir every so often until smooth
  • Mix in vanilla extract
  • Pour peanut butter mixture over the cereal and stir (careful not to crush cereal) until completely covered. 
*OK here is where things got messy for me. In the original recipe, it says to put the powdered sugar into a large zip lock bag, pour in the cereal and shake to coat. Sounds simple. It's not. I don't see how 9 cups of cereal WITH the powdered sugar could be coated. Maybe my bag wasn't large enough but it wasn't pretty. If you run into the same problem here is what you can one of two things: 

1) pour powdered sugar into the bowl with the cereal and coat it from there. If your bowl is large enough, you should be able to do this
2)Or, you can go ahead and spread your cereal onto the cookie sheet and pour the powdered sugar on it that way and evenly spread it around. Whatever works best for you.

Let cool for 20 minutes. Then transfer cereal back into large bowl and mix in candies! Store in an airtight container. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Dip

A few years ago, my sister in law gave me this recipe and it has been a hit ever since! There are different versions out there and I couldn't find the original one, so I found this similar one online. This dip is perfect all year round. 

-8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
-1/4 cup of ranch dressing
-1/4 cup of blue cheese salad dressing
-1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce (I used Frank's Red Hot, and have also used Hooters in the past)
-1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese OR 1/2 shredded mozzarella cheese (i used the cheese because I don't care for blue cheese crumbles)
-2 cups shredded meat from a fully cooked Rotisserie chicken (i used way more than two cups)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-In a deep baking dish, mix cream cheese, salad dressing, buffalo sauce and cheese. Stir until combined. Stir in chicken. 
-Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until it is heated through. Serve with crackers, tortilla chips or veggies. 

You'll love it! 

Tips: You really want to wait until your cream cheese is softened before you try and mix it in, probably about 15 minutes before you start making the dip. Don't make the mistake I did and not let it soften enough, otherwise you're going to stirring for a long time! Also, I used more than 1/2 cup of wing sauce, just because I like wing sauce. You can use more or less, depending on your taste. For the dressings, you can do the same thing-use more or less of the dressing that you like. If you don't like blue cheese, you could probably omit it and just use more ranch, however, you really can't taste the blue cheese. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

about that blog...

Well, it has been about two months since my last post. I know that my all of two readers (my mom and husband) are probably just so disappointed! ;)

So some of my new year's resolutions were to cook more, attempt to be crafty and do this blog. As most resolutions go, I haven't been as successful as I'd hoped to be! But that is okay, because life is good and that is all that matters!

One of the most exciting things that has happened in the last month is that our precious niece was born on St Patrick's Day-and in Australia! Rob and I absolutely love being an aunt and uncle and we were so thrilled when sweet little Anna was born. We don't know when we will meet her quite yet, but we already love her so much. I think the bond you have with your niece and/or nephew is just so special and we are so lucky to have that bond with our niece(s!) and nephew.

Well that's about all I got. Maybe the next time I post I'll have a fabulous new recipe to try or a cute craft, but considering this is only my fourth or fifth post, I'm not making any promises. :)


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Viva Las Vegas

My husband and I just got back from a three night stay in Vegas. We had an absolute blast! We recently went in September for his job, and I have to admit-I did not have the best time. Sure, I had fun because we were together but our location wasn't ideal and it was a pain to get anywhere. So, when we had some airline miles we needed to use, we decided to give Vegas another go-with my only request: stay in a a good part of the strip and stay in a nice hotel. Here is my review of fabulous Las Vegas!

We stayed at the Bellagio. I was so excited to be staying here. I don't really have a bucket list-but if I did, this would be something that I would be able to cross off! In my opinion, The Bellagio defines Vegas. Beautiful scenery, hustle and bustle, and of course, the infamous fountain show. The Bellagio is in an ideal location of the strip. We stayed at the Tropicana in September-which is at the very beginning of the strip and NOT ideal. So staying at the Bellagio was a wonderful change. It is located in between the newer Cosmopolitan Hotel and the popular Caesar's Palace. The check in process was a breeze-we arrived at the hotel around 11:30 am and had no problems being there way before check in to get a room. We requested a higher floor and they honored our request by putting us on the 24th floor. Our room was simply fabulous. We were in the "resort deluxe king" room and everything in this tower had been updated. Modern furnishings, including a lighted wardrobe, 40 inch flat screen TV, comfy bed and a separate seating area made this hotel room a nice treat to come back to after losing all of your money. ;) The bathroom was also well done. With a separate shower and tub, this bathroom did not feel like a hotel bathroom-it felt like something you would have in your own home.

Some of the downsides of this hotel was that the mini-fridge was well stocked. Why is this a downside? Well because every single item in the mini fridge has a motion sensor-so if you move one thing, regardless if you used it or not, you would be charged. We had planned on buying some of our own beer and wine to put in the fridge but this limited that for us. It wasn't a huge deal in the end because we just used the ice machine and that was fine-but it would have been nice to have the option of having a separate mini fridge. If that is the worst thing to say about a hotel, then I think that's a good thing!

Things to do in the Bellagio:
  • Go to the casino (if that's your thing)
  • Visit the conservatory and botanical gardens. This is a must! The theme while we were there was Chinese New Year and the scenery was spectacular
  • See the glass sculpture in the lobby (Fiori Di Como)
  • Gallery of Fine Art (we didn't do this)
  • O by Cirque du Soleil
  • Last but not least-watch the fountains of Bellagio, especially at night. The fountains are so amazing and they are timed to old classics, like Frank Sinatra
What we did
Rob and I did not see any shows while we were in Vegas this time around. We figured that people watching was a show in itself, and we had alot of fun just walking around to the different hotel and casinos. Here's where we went:
  • Planet Hollywood (directly across the street from Bellagio). We really liked this place and will probably stay there next time we go to Vegas. It has the "miracle mile" shops which is basically a huge mall and plenty of choices of restaurants and things to do.
  • Monte Carlo. We took the tram at Bellagio to get here, which was free and really convenient. We both felt that we got the best service here when we gambled-meaning we got free drinks often! We came here twice during our stay.
  • Paris. A really neat casino, that of course includes the Eiffel Tower ride. I highly recommend that you do this. It is 46 stories up (which is half of the real Eiffel tower, we learned) and you can see the entire strip. It was beautiful at night and we got some great pictures. It's about $10.50-$15 per person, depending on what time you go.
  • Caesar's Palace. Huge casino, huge hotel, HUGE mall. Both Caesar's and PH had a new H&M store. Caesar's also had Cheesecake Factory and a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, just to name a few.
We tried to eat as reasonably priced as possible and I think we did a pretty good job, considering everything is overpriced in Vegas, especially the restaurants. Here is where we dined:
  • Earl of Sandwich in Planet Hollywood: we loved this little sandwich shop so much that we actually ate here twice. Once for lunch and another time for breakfast. The food was really good and it was about $11/per person.
  • Cabo Wabo Cantina in Planet Hollywood: we ate dinner here in our last night in Vegas. They have a patio that faces the fountains of Bellagio and the rest of the strip. It was a really fun atmosphere, the service was great and the food was delish. Price: about $15-30 per person, not including drinks.
  • The Pub at Monte Carlo: not my favorite. It's a typical pub with typical pub food, but the atmosphere was bland and they were surprisingly not busy at 7:30.
  • Breakfast Buffet at Bellagio: You have to eat a buffet when you are in Vegas, right? Right! Their breakfast buffet was massive! It had a great selection of food from omelettes to French toast, fruits, cereal-you name it they had it. We got their at 7:00 am and by the time we left around 8:00-the line was already out the door. Price: $15.95/per person
  • Cafe Gellato at Bellagio: just your normal gellato shop. nothing too special
What to Expect when you go to Vegas:
  • Expect to do a lot of walking, no matter where you stay on the strip. Granted, it does help when you are staying somewhere more centrally located, but you will still do a ton of walking, no matter what.
  • Expect to overpay for just about everything. Food, drinks, shows, etc. You name it, and it will be twice the normal amount. Why? Because they can and you will pay it. Tip: since you can walk around with alcohol in Vegas, check for convenient stores inside the hotels. A lot of them do have good deals on beer, wine and mixed drinks.
  • Expect to get hassled by promoters wanting you to come to their nightclubs, people asking for money, and handing you "business cards" for escorts. You just have to ignore it and laugh it off, otherwise it'll really annoy you.
  • Expect to see alot of WEIRD people. You'll know what I mean.
  • Tip your cocktail waitresses when you gamble. You're getting a free drink and they will keep coming back if you tip them well. Yes, even when you just play the penny slots like we did!
  • Expect to have a TON of fun! Vegas is definitely a place that you have to go at least once, and if you have a good experience, you'll want to go again! Do your research on where to stay because it really does make a big difference.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


First, if you are reading this and you are in the Dallas area-this is the perfect recipe to make on a night like this, with all of this rain! Second, I cannot tell you how ridiculously easy this was to make. I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Pearls, Handcuffs, and Happy Hour. She has the cutest blog and I have gotten the best ideas. Anyway, you need to make this super soon! I strayed from the recipe a bit, which I'll explain later. Only one pic this time. :)

Dorito Casserole
What You'll need:
-1/2 bag of Doritos (I used Baked, and you could also use tortilla chips)
-1/2 cup milk
-1/2 cup sour cream (I used light)
-one can of Rotel (I used HOT)
-1 1/2-2 cups of Fiesta Blend shredded cheese
-Taco Seasoning packet
-whole Rotisserie Chicken, shredded
-can of cream of mushroom OR cream of chicken soup
What to do:
-Preheat oven to 350
-Crush your Doritos
-Mix together all ingredients, except Doritos
-Layer your crushed Doritos on a 9x13 casserole dish
-Layer the chicken mixture on top of Doritos
-Sprinkle cheese over entire dish
-Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes

It is SO GOOD!

Note: The original recipe called for a layer of Doritos, a layer of chicken mixture, another layer of doritos, and then another layer of chicken mix. I thought this would taste too crunchy and not meaty enough, so I omitted that step. I'm sure it tastes fine that way, but our way was just as delish too. We used Hot Rotel and it I recommend mild unless you just really love hot food. The chicken was just one of the ones that are already cooked from the grocery store, and we just shredded ourselves. I'm all about taking shortcuts when it comes to cooking! Minus the doritos, this recipe would also be an awesome dip! Hope you love it like we did!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cinnamon Syrup Biscuits

I have really been into baking and cooking lately, but I always seem to get stuck for good breakfast recipes, especially on the weekends. After looking on Pinterest (of course!), I found this yummy, SUPER easy recipe! It's very similar to "monkey bread". If you are on Weight Watchers like I am, this is a somewhat "ww friendly" recipe, if you use lighter versions of the ingredients. My husband made us a turkey sausage and egg scrambler and it went together nicely!

Here's what you'll need:
-one tube of Grands biscuits (I used reduced fat)
-1/2 cup of pancake syrup (I used light)
-1/3 cup of light packed brown sugar
-3 tablespoons of melted butter (I used Blue Bonnet Light margarine)
-1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
-1 fluted pan
And here's what you'll need to do:
-Preheat oven to 375
-Spray fluted pan with non-stick cooking spray; make sure you get coat the sides well because you will be inverting this
-Mix together syrup and butter, set aside
-Mix together cinnamon and brown sugar
-Pour half of the syrup mixture in the pan, then sprinkle the brown sugar mixture on top
-Place biscuits in the pan, overlapping to form a ring
-Pour remaining syrup and brown sugar mixtures over biscuits
-Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown (mine went for 25)
-Cool for one minute, then invert onto a plate

Notes: I read the recipe too quickly (as I tend to do) and combined all of the ingredients, instead of separating them out. I don't think it made much difference and they still tasted amazing. If you use the reduced fat biscuits, they may not be as golden brown as they would be the with regular version. Don't worry-these biscuits don't taste light! These are 7 weight watcher points per 1 serving.

Happy cooking!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Two Years of Canine Bliss

Two years ago this weekend, we adopted a too-thin 32 pound "puppy" named Dixie with paws larger than life, from the Garland Animal Shelter through Garland Pawsibilities . Here we are two years, a new name and 45 pounds later, Roxy is is our crazy and sweet dog child.

In honor of her adoption anniversary, I decided to write about something that is very important to me: shelter pets! I believe with my whole heart, that when you are ready to add a furry friend in your life, that you should strongly consider rescuing a pet from a shelter or adopting from a rescue organization. There are many misconceptions about shelter and rescue pets, and hopefully after reading this post, your mind may have changed.

Myth: Shelter pets are obviously not good pets, or else their original owners wouldn't have gotten rid of them. I have heard this so many times and it drives me crazy! The number one reason that pets wind up in shelters is due to the fact that the original owners didn't think about the time and energy it takes to have a pet. To be perfectly frank, it's due to irresponsible pet owners. Us! The humans! The majority of shelter pets are loving, sweet animals who weren't given a chance. Roxy was found in a field and we have come to the conclusion that she was most likely dumped, as so many dogs and cats are, when their owners are tired of dealing with them.

Myth: You never know what you're getting with shelter pets.
While this may be true, it is certainly true with any dog you get, regardless if you are adopting from a rescue or buying from a pet store or breeder. Like humans, dogs and cats get sick! When we took Roxy to the vet shortly after we got her; she had worms and kennel cough. This was due to the fact that her previous owners did not give her monthly heartworm prevention and she was never given proper vaccinations to prevent kennel cough. Unless you have done your research, that cute dog you see in the window at the pet shop could have the same exact problems-if not worse. Does Roxy get the occasional ear infection? Sure! Just like any dogs with floppy ears do. Is it because she was a shelter pet? Of course not!

Myth:Purebreds are impossible to find at animal shelters. This is the myths of all myths in regards to shelter pets. As I am looking at my city's shelter website, more than half of the dogs and cats listed as available for adoption, are PUREBRED! I am talking miniature schnauzers, labrador retrievers, poodles, etc. Why is this such a huge misconception? In my opinion, I think people think of shelter pets as cast offs, bad pets, etc. But really, that's not it at all. In addition to shelters, there is a rescue organization for just about every single popular breed-and the not so popular ones as well. Word of advice? Do your research! You will be surprised at what you find.

Myth:When picking out a pet, puppies and kittens are the way to go.
Not necessarily. If you want a puppy or kitten, great! Good for you! But, please educate yourself on the training, energy and time it takes to raise a puppy or kitten. When we first set out to adopt a dog, we wanted a mature dog with previous training. Well...that is not what we got. You know the saying, "you don't choose the dog (or cat), the dog chooses you?" For us, that was the case. We have had Roxy for 2 years, and let me tell you-it has been a long two years. We have had our patience and nerves tested. Raising a puppy is HARD. Those that have been there know what I am talking about. Is it worth it in the end? Most definitely! Is it tough? More than you will ever know-unless you have raised a puppy. :) So, my point is this: don't walk past those kennels with the older dogs or cats in it. They need homes just as much as those young pets do-and the reward in the end will be great.

This has sure been a long winded post. Do I think that if you don't adopt a pet from an shelter or rescue group that you aren't doing the right thing? Absolutely not! However, I encourage you to do your research. If you are getting a pet from a breeder, ask for references. How long have they been in business? What are the living situations for the current dogs they have like? You get the picture. If buying a dog from a pet store, do the same thing. Research to see if they have been associated with any puppy mills. If you don't know what puppy mills are, Google it. You definitely don't want to support anything like this.

And, if you read my post and it gets your mind churning about the types of pets at shelters and rescues-go check them out. You might find your furry friend. And they will be forever grateful.