Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Need a quick and easy appetizer for a holiday party or maybe for a watch party this weekend?  Dips are always a good pick and this one is especially good.  I like to think that it is healthy too since it has spinach and artichokes in it...forget about all of the other ingredients that area added to it to make it taste good.
I made this dip for the first time several years ago when I saw it on a flyer at the grocery store and since then I have changed it several times and now I finally have the one that I am sticking to.  I have changed the ingredients a bit and also made it a little speedier for preparing last minute.  No need for baking in the oven when you can use the microwave! 
One of the other reasons that I like this recipe so much is that you don't have to search for exactly the right quantity of an item.  For example, I used a little less spinach this time than I have in the past in order to use what I already had at home and it didn't ruin the entire recipe.  
I have also seen some dips similar to this recently with bacon in them and tomatoes on top.  I love tomatoes and so I might have to make another modification to this recipe for next time.
 I forget about this recipe sometimes and it slips my mind when I am in a hurry and trying to find something great to make, but now that it is officially in my online recipe book I wont forget anymore.

Spinach Artichoke Dip
Servings: 20  Calories: 300  Fat: 8g 
You will need:
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed & well drained OR 1 can spinach, chopped & well drained
  • 1 jar (approx. 7.5 oz) marinated artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese (plain mozzarella is fine too)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese
Spread cream cheese onto bottom of microwaveable 9-inch pie plate or 2 quart casserole dish. If your cream cheese is too hard to spread, place the block in your microwavable dish and microwave on high for 15 seconds and check again. You may do this more than once, but make sure not to microwave for too long.
Make sure that your spinach is thawed, chopped and drained. I like to put the spinach into a food processor to make sure that it is in small pieces. I also like to put my artichokes in the food processor and do the same, but this is an optional step.
In a separate bowl, mix together the prepared spinach, artichokes, both cheeses and garlic powder until well blended and spread over the cream cheese.
Microwave on high for 2 minutes at a time until heated thoroughly.
When ready, you can serve with crackers, tortilla chips, sliced bread or even in a bread bowl (I tried Wheat Thins also, but preferred the tortilla chips or bread). You can also use a spoon or spatula to stir the mixture and blend the cream cheese with the top layer before serving. 
Click here for a printable version.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

BOO Footprints Sign

This year for Halloween I wanted to do something special with Miss Priss.  She is still small and does not really know how to do much crafting yet, but I wanted to remember this year with her. 
I have seen many different ways of imprinting footprints as keepsakes, but then I saw this!  It is a great memory of her little feet on her first year or trick-or-treating and will also serve as a Halloween decoration for many years to come. 
I didn't get this completed in time to put it out this year because well, life just got in the way...but, it is ready to go for next year and I can't wait to put it out and show Miss Priss what her little feet looked like.  And next year, I will have another little ghost to add to the decor!
This is such a simple project that can be done with things that are easy to find and that you might already have at home.  This can be done with older kids as just might only be able to fit one footprint rather than both.
BOO Footprints Sign
You will need:
  • chalk board
  • white acrylic paint
  • acrylic paint for wording in whatever color you like
  • paintbrush(s)
  • black paint for eyes (I used a paint pen)
  • your baby's feet
  • stencil for lettering
  • ribbon (for bow on girl ghost)
  • hot glue gun (for ribbon)
  • Fray Check (for ribbon)
I got my chalkboard at Hobby Lobby, but I did also see them at Wal-Mart!  The ones at Wal-Mart were a bit cheaper and the only thing that I noticed what that if you were actually going to use them as chalk boards they might not be that great, but for this project I actually think the ones at Wal-Mart would work better than the ones at Hobby Lobby because they had a much smoother looking dark black color to them AND they are much lighter in weight so if you wanted to add ribbon to the back and hang it on the wall it would be perfect.
Paint the bottom of your baby's feet with the white paint.  Make sure to cover the entire foot and you may even use a scrap piece of paper to see how it will turn out and how much pressure you want to apply before putting it on your chalkboard.
I wanted a ribbon on one of Miss Priss feet to make a girl ghost and so I used my Fray Check on the ends to keep it from fraying and made a ribbon for her hair and hot glued it onto the foot.  This actually worked out really well since there was a little mess up with the heel of the second ghost and I was able to cover it with the ribbon.  You have to make sure that your little one is being cooperative while you do this or you might have an odd shaped ghost!
I then used black paint pens to make circle eyes on each of the ghosts.  You could use a paintbrush, but I didn't really trust my shaky hands with that small of a circle.  You might even be able to use a black sharpie as well, but I didn't try that?!
 Using my Cricut, I cut out a stencil for my wording and taped it to the chalkboard before I began painting.  If you trust your freehand painting go for it!
I used purple paint so that everything was not orange and black, and because purple is my favorite color of course.  For those of you from Oklahoma, I am a Sooner and so orange and black, even at Halloween, is hard for me to cover my house in.

I painted my letters within the stencils trying to make sure not to let it bleed under the paper. 
Once it was dry, I took off the stencil and went over the purple paint slowly by hand to make it darker and to make sure that the lines of my letters were straight.  The number of times you will have to do this will depend on the color of paint and chalkboard that you choose.  If you are using orange, you probably wont have any issues with being able to see it though.
And for remembrance sake, I also used a paint pen to record Miss Priss's name and the date that we took this cutie footprints.
Once you have your painting done and it has dried you can decide if you want to hang it or place it on a shelf or easel.  You could add some ribbon or twine to the back and hang it on the wall or as a door hanger or just sit it on the shelf or mantle.

This was a very simple and cheap project, but it holds memories that will be used for many years and can be passed on a little easier than a footprint on a piece of paper from daycare.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pumpkin Puppy Chow

Pumpkin season is back and this year I'm pregnant so the pumpkin desserts are gonna get crazy and I am going to try all of them!  The first new pumpkin treat that I have tried this year is Pumpkin Puppy Chow.

For some reason I have really been wanting to make this.  I love pumpkin of course and Puppy Chow is always a favorite treat at the holidays.  I looked around to find the perfect recipe and even though I have found many great recipes I didn't find that perfect one that I was looking for...and so, came my collaboration of many recipes to come up with one that was simple to make (since this was a last minute decision to make today and I didn't want to have to go to Wal-Mart for the third time this weekend!), but still fantastic.

It turned out really well and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to make, even with Miss Priss standing between my legs at the stove the entire time!
Pumpkin Puppy Chow
Servings: 12  Calories: 300  Fat: 8g 
You will need:
  • 8 cups Rice Chex
  • 2 cups (1 bag) white chocolate chips
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • Reece's Pieces (I used this in mine!)
  • Your other favorite Candy
Pour your Rice Chex into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Slowly melt the chocolate chips on the stove on a low setting and stir frequently until melted.  It might look like they are not melting, but believe me they are and you do not want to burn them!  It doesn't take very long and so it is best just to stand there close to the stove so that you can stir them often.
Once the chips are melted, sprinkle in the pumpkin pie spice and mix well with the chocolate.
While the chips are still melted and warm pour the mixture over the Rice Chex and mix thoroughly to make sure that all of the Chex are coated.
Pour about half of the Chex mix into a gallon size ziploc bag or a large container with a lid.  Add 1 cup of the powdered sugar and shake for a minute.  Then add about half of your candy pieces (if you are adding these) and shake until the Chex are fully coated with powdered sugar and you have no clumps.
This is where it might be best to use a ziploc bag because you can use your fingers to break up any clumps without having to open the container. 
Do the same with the remaining Chex, 1 cup powdered sugar and candy if needed and shake, shake, shake.  This makes a gallon size Ziploc bag of Chow.  I listed it as 12 servings, but this will vary depending on how much you want to eat.  I do not know that actual serving size rules since I am not a nutritionist (or I wouldn't be making this anyway)!
I got a little excited about this one and so I took a lot of pictures.  This was so simple and tastes so good...I am sure that I will be making this again before the season is over with and then starting on my plans for some Christmas Puppy Chow!
Click here for a printable version.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fall Bucket List {Printable}

Fall has started and it is time for another bucket list!  I started making this a long time ago and I guess I really knew what I wanted to do this year because we have already done several things on the list and fall has only been here for a few weeks!
Fall is my favorite season of the year.  I love fall for its cool, but still sunny weather and most of all for the pumpkin recipes and fall decor that is already starting to show up on Facebook and Pinterest!
I cant wait to take Miss Priss to our annual family gathering at the Robbers Cave State Park Fall Festival next week and get a nice vacation from work to enjoy the season that I love so much.  If you don't already have fall plans for your family check out my bucket list for some great ideas and feel free to print off a copy for yourself.
Have a great fall y'all!

The link above will take you to a printable version of my Fall Bucket List. 

I used the Persnickety Prints Birds of a Feather free scrapbooking kit download to design my bucket list.  You can download this kit for free personal use here:
You can also check out my Summer Bucket List here and my Spring Bucket List here.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Chicken Noodles {Crockpot Recipe}

Who is ready for fall?  I know that I am!  I would like to have a few more weeks to hang in the swimming pool, but I am ready for some fall weather and fall treats too.
I am going to start of the month of September by reminding myself of a crockpot recipe that I made for the first time last year and am ready to get back in the crockpot this year.  Chicken noodles have always been one of my favorite fall meals, but until recently I never really tried to make them on my own and with a little one running around and another on the way, I need easy meals so that we don't end up eating spaghetti O's and grilled cheeses every night!
this is also a great meal to make for company with some sweet cornbread on the side...yummy!  Now you are ready for a fall with a delish crockpot meal that is filling and good for the whole family.  And as always, since is it a full crockpot meal, there was plenty for my family of two and a baby for several days.  Enjoy your fall cooking!
Chicken Noodles
in the Crockpot
You will need:
  • 4 carrot sticks, rinsed and chopped
  • 4 celery sticks, rinsed and chopped
  • 32 oz carton of chicken broth (I used leftovers from the fridge that was more then half full)
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • couple shakes of salt and pepper
  • 1-1/2 tbsp of onion flake
  • 1 tbsp dry basil
  • 4 or 5 chicken breasts, frozen or thawed
  • 1/2 to 1 bag of egg noodles  
Pour the broth, cream of chicken soup, water, milk and seasonings into the crockpot and mix thoroughly.  I just eyeballed the seasoning.
Place the chicken breasts in the crockpot and cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 8-10 hours.  About an hour before you are ready to eat, shred the chicken with a fork and add in all of your veggies.  Also add how ever much of the bag of noodles you prefer.  I used a little more than half the bag.
I am not a person who particularly likes celery.  I don't mind having it in potato soup, chicken noodle soup and such for does add a great flavor to soups...but I don't like to eat it by itself and I really don't like to know that it is there by getting crunchy pieces of celery in my soup and so I prefer to add my celery at the beginning with the rest of the "wet" ingredients, but still saving my carrots for the end. 
I also like to use frozen peas and carrots sometimes rather than carrots by themselves.  Adds some green veggies and is easier and faster than cutting up fresh carrots when you are in a crunch for pun intended! :)
Click here for a printable version. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Crescent Roll Pizzas

I eat a lot of pizza and I mean a lot!  Besides Mexican or pasta that is about all I eat.  This is fine until I remember that Miss Priss cant have dairy and what is one of the main ingredients in pizza?  Cheese, of course!
I usually make her something different and then let her eat some crust because she wants to join in, but this time I decided to make her some pizza of her own.  Pizza can be good without cheese...well, at least to a toddler who doesn't know any better.  I have seen a variety of pizzas made in different ways and so I put them all together and came up with this...
I even snuck some diced carrots into a few of them just to see if she would notice and guess what??  She didn't even know they were there and ate them just as fast as she ate the ones without carrots.  SO not only does this mean that Miss Priss finally gets to join in on the pizza dinners, but she avoiding dairy and getting in some veggies at the same time.  You cant beat that!  I know, I know...tomato sauce is technically considered a vegetable serving, but a little extra veggies never hurt anyone.
Crescent Roll Pizzas
Servings:  8 rolls

You will need:
  • 1 can reduced fat crescent rolls
  • small jar of pizza sauce, you wont use it all
  • mini pepperonis
  • shredded cheese
  • hamburger meat or other toppings
  • diced carrots 
First of all, I like to line my baking sheet with foil so that I don't have to worry about sticking when I take my pizzas out of the oven, but this is up to you.
Unroll the crescent rolls and separate into 8 pieces. 
Top each roll with pizza sauce and toppings.  I did two at a time and then rolled those up and started on the next two.  It really doesn't take hardly any sauce at all because as soon as you start to roll them up, sauce will start to ooze out the sides and you will loose most of it anyway.  You also want to make sure not to overdo it on the toppings for the same reason!
You can even use leftover pizza sauce from the family pizza or pasta since there really is very little sauce in these rolls.
I didn't use cheese on mine because Miss Priss cant have dairy, but by all means...add some cheese if you want to.
On these two, I added some diced carrots that were leftovers from the previous night so that they didn't go to waste and Miss Priss got in some veggies with her pizza.
Once you have them filled with toppings, roll them up just like you would a crescent roll with nothing in it and lay them out on your baking sheet.
Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.
They will be hot so make sure to let them cool before giving them to your little one.  The inside of them may be much hotter than you realize.
That is for everyone...even those with little hands and diet restrictions!
Click here for a printable version. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

DIY Sandbox

I am always looking for the next neat thing for Miss Priss to play with and a few months ago I wanted to get her a sandbox.  I thought she would really enjoy it and it was something that would keep her occupied while we were outside doing yard work and I had been looking for some fun sensory play activities for her too.

Now, I know that they sell the turtle sandboxes with lids that are super cute, but they were about $40 the last time I checked and that is just too much for me to spend on something that is only used a portion of the year and so the best part of my sandbox is that I was able to do this for less than $20!  Are you kidding me???  Nope, less than $20 and my little one had a sandbox all to herself.  I went to Wal-Mart, where I go for everything, and bought a $10 swimming pool, 5 bags of sand and a few sandbox toys for her to play with. 

I was super excited when I brought it home and so was Miss Priss, though up until just a few weeks ago though, she didn't want to get into the sandbox!  She loved playing with the sand, but she always stood around the edge of the sandbox and just played from there rather than sitting directly in it.  She apparently doesn't like the feel of the sand on her feet...or her bottom!  (This was also the case when we took a family vacation to the beach last Thanksgiving and she screamed at the top of her lungs each time I tried to put her in the sand or even lay her on a towel in the sand!  This made for quite a nice vacation inside the condo. LOL) 

But, a few weeks ago when the neighbors came over for a cookout, the little boy down the street started playing in the sandbox and wouldn't you know...Miss Priss wanted to play in it too!  Go figure...I should have invited them over long before then.  She immediately wanted to get in as well and since then, she has been happy to get into the sandbox and get dirty.  She ends up with sand everywhere you can think of, including her face, and she loves it!

A few things to note for next time are that even though the pool in small, that sand weighs a LOT and you better put it where you want to keep it because it isn't easy to move back and forth across the patio.  This "sandbox" doesn't come with a lid and so if you are concerned about water getting into it during a heavy rain then you had better get a big piece of plastic or wood to cover the top and keep the water out.  We did this during the spring months when it was raining a lot at one time, but this summer we have left it open and just give it a few days to dry out.  It is on the covered patio and so doesn't get completely soaked, but there are days that the sand gets very wet and we try to occupy Miss Priss with something else until the sand dries out.
 DIY Sandbox
You will need:
  • plastic swimming pool or tub
  • bags of sand (or whatever you want to use as filler)
  • sandbox toys
  • plastic or piece of wood for covering
You can do what I did and use a plastic swimming pool or you could use any other kind of plastic tub that you think your baby can get in and out of without getting hurt.  I thought the plastic pool was the easiest, but there are many things that would work for a small space and a small budget!
There isn't much to it really, just pick a spot for your sandbox and fill 'er up!  This is great for babies (that are not putting everything in their mouths) and for toddlers so can be used for several years. 

I have also heard of people using rice or beans rather than sand and so here are a few thoughts about those.  If you are putting together a box indoors, rice or beans might make it less messy and easier to cleanup than sand.  Yes, rice and beans can go everywhere too, but lets face it...have you eve tried to clean up sand (or salt) is NOT fun!  But if you are planning to keep your box outdoors there is a high possibility of the rice or beans getting wet and we all know what happens when water touches rice or beans...yup, they expand and they get mushy!  that would be a mess!  Keep these tips in mind when trying to decide what you would like your child to play in.

They even make colored sand, but I decided that we would probably "lose" some to the surrounding patio, the water table, and whatever else Miss Priss thinks that it needs to go into and so I didn't want to pay the additional money for the coloring.  I think that the toys are colorful enough for her.
I have seen some ideas for a covered sandbox which also can be used as seating or a play deck for the kids.  Some of them even have a roof covering to keep the sun out so that you don't have to take up space on your patio and can move it away from the house some.  Since they appear to be so versatile, I want to build Miss Priss one of these eventually, but for now our pink swimming pool will work just fine!