Thursday, August 18, 2011

Making Dinner & Dessert with my SwagBucks and How You Can, Too!

Search & Win

Have you joined Swagbucks yet? If not, what are you waiting for?

It's really takes no effort at all to earn "bucks" that you can use to purchase numerous items at the Swag Store, including the crock pot and  ice cream maker, pictured below, that we have been enjoying all summer.

How did I earn the Swagbucks for it? I simply downloaded the Swagbucks tool bar and now every time I need to use a search engine, I use the SwagBucks search engine right there on the bar! The new tool bar not only includes a search engine box but also exclusive messages and swag codes from The Swag Guy, the official homepage, social networks, merchandise stores, message boards and more! 

Of course there are many more ways to win, including the Special Offers Section -a place on the Swagbucks site where users can complete offers from major brands and potentially earn themselves big time Swag Bucks. Offers can range from surveys, watching videos and playing games to subscribing to magazines and services, and whether you want to spend money completing an offer or not, there are always plenty of rewarding opportunities available.

Swagbucks is always looking for new ways for you to earn Reward Points, and this week they've got a promotion designed to help you get your free stuff faster!

For any qualifying Special Offer you complete from now through Sunday, August 21st, you’ll receive a 20% bonus on what you earn. That bonus will be applied no later than 4:00pm PDT on Monday, August 22nd.

Offers from the following providers qualify for the bonus: 
Ad Rewards, Gambit, Trialpay (Offers & Daily Deals), RadiumOne, Paymentwall, Super Rewards, Peanut Labs (Surveys & Offers), and Sponsorpay. 

Search & Win

If you haven’t done Special Offers before, you can choose from a variety of different offers (free, purchase required, games, surveys, watching videos, etc.), each of which pay you a Swag Bucks reward. Get started today and earn big!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

SRC: Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffin Minis

It's no fun to be left out. No, not at all. That's exactly what happened to Raina @ Connor's Cooking blog this month in the round up of recipes for the Secret Recipe Club.

Well, some members of SRC, including myself, are not going to allow her to be left out any longer! When I received an email from Amanda, our SRC leader, explaining what had happened and what she had in mind to fix the situation, I knew right away that I wanted in on the action! Anything to help out a fellow foodie blogger. :)  You see, I've known Amanda for almost 10 yrs. and I know her well enough to know that just having one person left out of the round up would upset her, just like having one of kids left out of something. She has such a big heart that she would just have to do something to make it right. I think that her email affected all of us. We decided to shower Raina with lots and lots of secret recipe testing from her blog! So much so, that Amanda decided to set up a separate round up to show all of the news recipes that we've tested!

I was hunting through the recipes on Raina's blog, trying to pick just one recipe. If you haven't visited her blog before, do so. She has many wonderful recipes posted there. I thought that I had made my mind up on baking her smore's brownies but then I came across a recipe for sugar donut muffins. They spoke to me! haha! I just had to bake these donut muffins instead. Don't despair, smore's brownies, you are on my list to make very soon!

If you like sugar donuts, you will love this recipe. I changed my recipe up a bit by adding a little cinnamon to the batter and then to the sugar. I also made my donut muffins "minis". Delicious! Just like popping a cinnamon sugar donut hole right into your mouth! I will definitely play around with this recipe because they're are so many possibilities. Think of powdered sugar covered donut muffin minis with jelly inside! How about thick creamy custard in the middle and chocolate icing on the tops of each mini! My mind is running with ideas.

See my cute little apple basket? Such a deal at our thrift store for .49! It's going to be filled with mints and going to school to sit on the office desk. But doesn't it look so darn precious filled with these little donut muffin minis?!! 

Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffin Minis
adapted from Connor's Cooking

3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 c flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. oil
3/4 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
4-6 tbsp. butter, melted
1 c. sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon + to taste

Preheat oven to 325* - I used dark muffin tins.

Lightly grease mini muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray.

In a bowl, mix together the sugar and the egg until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla & oil and then set aside. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Beat the egg mixture into the flour, alternating with the milk. Beat until smooth.

Fill mini muffin pans 3/4 full. Bake for approximately 13 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the middle of a muffin, comes out clean.

Remove the muffins to a cooling rack. Once they've cooled off enough to handle, dip the entire mini muffin into the butter and then roll it into the cinnamon sugar. Continue until all of the minis have been coated with butter and cinnamon sugar.

Store in a sealed container.

Find out more about the Secret Recipe Club!

Please take a moment to comment on my Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffin Minis. I'll visit you back!

While you're at it, take few minutes (or lots of minutes!) to visit the other wonderful SRC bloggers below who came together with me to show that we won't allow any of our foodie friends to be left out!

Menu Plan for August 14-20

We're back into the routine of soccer practices, getting ready for school and pretty much running around like crazy. lol!

From now on, I've decided to list my menu plan without any days attached to the meals. More often than not, I end up switching some meals around during the week so this is just easier for me. I figure that as long as I'm making a 7 day meal plan and sticking to it, I'm doing ok.

spicy shrimp pasta, salad & italian bread - ate it  on Sunday

tex mex turkey pitas and spanish rice

red pepper and parmesan talapia, jasmine rice and carrots/spinach

crockpot beef & barley soup

sweet onion chicken teriyaki subs

baked ravioli and salad - ate it on Monday

pork souvlaki, pierogies and corn

Mother Nature's beauty after a recent storm. I took these pictures in our back yard:

Monday, August 15, 2011

SRC - Toffee Squares

My mission for this moth from the Secret Recipe Club was to choose a recipe from Nicole's blog, The Cookaholic Wife. Let me just start off by saying that I had such a hard time choosing just one recipe to blog about. Nicole and I seem to enjoy the same types of cooking and food. I started browsing through her blog and within a couple of minutes, I'd picked out four recipes to try.

I settled on baking the Toffee Squares. The recipe looked pretty easy, which was great because I needed a quick dessert for that particular evening and the sound of toffee in a cookie made my mouth water. Nicole mentioned that her bars were a little dry so I made note of her suggestion to use a bigger cookie sheet so that the "bar" part of the cookie baked up thin. The cookies sheet that I used measures 13 1/2 x 18 1/2 and it worked perfectly. I used candied pecans instead of plain pecans and then I drizzled caramel ice cream topping over the top of the bars.

I couldn't wait until evening to eat these delicious little bars so I cut a small square to enjoy just for myself. I have to admit that even after all of the changes that I'd made, the first bite was just ok, nothing special - just like Nicole had described hers to be. I wrapped tin foil around the pan and decided that I would see what my family had to say about them later that night.

I'm not sure what happened between the time that I wrapped the bars and the time that I cut them to serve to my family but whatever it was, was surely a great thing. Now the cookies had softened a bit and the toppings seemed to have melded together. An awesome transformation. The bars were delicious. The nuts were sweet and gave a nice crunch to the bar part of the cookie and the chocolate and caramel topping just melted in my mouth. I'm not the only one who enjoyed these toffee squares, everyone in the house really liked them. They're addictive little suckers. None of them went to waste.

This recipe would work well for picnics, parties, reunions or school bake sales. I'm sure that they would travel well, too, if you like mailing treats.

My changes to the recipe are in bold below.

Toffee Squares
posted @ The Cookaholic Wife

2 sticks butter, room temp
1 c. packed light brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
2 c. flour
2 c. chocolate chips
1 c. glazed pecans, finely chopped
caramel ice cream topping, drizzled to liking

Preheat the oven to 350*.

Cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Mix in the egg, vanilla and flour. Mix until well combined.

Spread the mixture onto a cookie sheet until thin. (I used a 13 1/2 x 18 1/2 sheet)

Bake for 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over top of the baked cookie bar.

Return to the oven for 3 minutes. Remove and spread the melted chocolate over the cookie.

Sprinkle with the chopped pecans. Drizzle the caramel topping over the entire area.

Cool for 10 minutes. Cut into small squares.

** I recommend leaving the toffee squares in the pan and covering them with tin foil.
Leave covered for at least 3 hrs. before serving. Store leftovers covered with tin foil or
in a sealed container. **

If you would like to join us in the Secret Recipe Club, click here to find out more about it!

Amanda, our club leader, has broken our huge club down into smaller groups to allow for easier viewing of all of the recipes and to allow for more comments to be left on everyone's blogs! Each group will post at different times during the month. We love comments, so please take a moment to let us know what you think of our recipes! :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Roasted Greek Chicken & Potatoes

This dish is wonderful enough to serve double duty as an easy weeknight dinner or as a special holiday dinner.

The chicken stays juicy, while the potatoes roast up crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Roasted Greek Chicken & Potatoes

I didn't measure any specific amounts for this recipe.
It can be made in small or large amounts, depending
on the number of people you are feeding.

thawed chicken pieces - I baked 8 leg & thigh pieces
red potatoes, cubed small - I used 8 medium potatoes
olive oil
lemon juice
Greek seasoning
minced garlic
lemon pepper seasoning (no salt added)

Use a roasting pan big enough to hold both the chicken and the potatoes.

Rinse and pat dry the chicken pieces. Lay the chicken flat in one side of the pan, skin side up.

Cube potatoes (I left the skins on) and lay opposite of the chicken in the other side of the roasting pan.

Drizzle the olive oil over the chicken and potatoes and then sprinkle both with lemon juice.

Sprinkle approx. 2 tbsp. greek seasoning and lemon pepper on top of the chicken and potatoes.

Sprinkle approx. 1 tbsp. oregano and minced garlic over top of both.

Stir the potatoes, making sure they're coated with the oil, lemon and herbs.

Preheat oven to 450*

Bake chicken and potatoes for 20 minutes.

Lower oven to 375*

Continue baking for 1 - 1 1/2 hrs longer, checking after 1 hour to see if the juice in the chicken are clear.

Once chicken is done roasting, remove it to a plate and keep warm.

Spread the potatoes out in a single layer in the pan. Stick the pan under the broiler for 3 -5 minutes or until the potatoes have browned a little bit.

Serve immediately.

Leftover chicken is delicious as chicken salad or on a sandwich. Leftover potatoes are great fried the next day.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Poor Man's Cookies

This cookie recipe has been handed down generation to generation in my family. I can remember my grandmother baking these cookies for all of our family reunions, for Christmas dinner, for Easter dinner and any other time that she was asked to bring a dessert to an event.

With just a handful of basic pantry ingredients, I imagine that the recipes comes from the Depression Era. Baking them takes me back to my younger years and the memories make me smile.

Poor Man's Cookies

1 c. golden raisins
1 1/2 c. water
1 stick of butter
2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg
3/4 c. walnuts, finely crushed - I used
glazed pecans because that's what I had
on hand

Add raisins and water to a medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Add the stick of butter and stir until the butter is melted. Set aside to cool.

Mix together flour, sugar, salt. Stir in crushed nuts.

In a separate bowl, lightly whip the egg and vanilla, using a fork. Stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix well.

Add the raisins and all of the liquid in the pot. Stir until completely mixed together. Set aside and allow the batter to rest for 5 minutes.

Spray a small baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the cookie batter into the baking sheet. Spread the batter out evenly.

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden brown. Start checking the cookies after 18 minutes. Mine were done in exactly 20 minutes.

Cool the cookies in the pan. Glaze while still warm to the touch.

Glaze Recipe

2 c. powdered sugar
3 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
4 tbsp. butter, very soft or melted

Beat all ingredients together until smooth.

Linking up to:

Gooseberry Patch Round 'Em Up & Take 'Em To Go!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Try Dannon Activia Selects - Get Your Coupon!

I'll admit it, I love trying new products and when the opportunity to try Dannon Activia Selects came along, I just couldn't wait to try them! My kids and I love yogurt! We like to make easy desserts by layering the yogurt with granola or the cereal bits that's left at the bottom of the bag.

There's 2 kinds of Dannon Activia Select to choose from:

French Style with bits of fruit on the bottom

Greek Thick & Creamy with fruit

Now I'm passing this opportunity on to you!

GET YOUR COUPON by clicking on this link: Visit the Activia Selects Facebook page to get your FREE coupon now!
Hurry! The offer is only valid until 8/15/11

This sponsorship is brought to you by Activia Selects who we have partnered with for this promotion. FREE coupon offer good 8/3 /11 - 8/15/11, up to 1 million coupons, on any Activia Selects Single Serve, up to $3.00. One coupon per household. Offer valid in the U.S only. VOID IN LA, NJ, CA. Coupon valid until 8/15/11. Residents of LA, NJ, CA will be given a '$1 off 3 Activia Selects' coupon.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

July '11 Cookie Carnival Round Up!

Are you suffering in a heat wave in your area? Thank you for sticking it out to bake with us this month! 

It's time again for our Cookie Carnival Round Up!

We baked two completely different cookies this month. One was filled with blueberries and oats and the other with coffee and chocolate! How's that for shaking things up a bit. (Maybe literally "shaking things up a bit" if you used extra espresso in the chocolate espresso cookies! hahaha!)

Wild Blue Energy Chews
Double-Chocolate Espresso Cookies

Once again, our Cookie Carnival bakers have done a superb job! 

Just take a look.....

First up, we have our Wild Blue Energy Chew bakers:

Julie @ A Little Bit of Everything said " I chose The Wild Blueberry Chews because they seemed to be the healthier option, can you say that about cookies?"

Tessa @ The Cookin' Chemist said "We've recently found that we really enjoy dried blueberries, and the combination of them with the almonds and wheat germ really do give these a "healthier" vibe."

Next we have our Double Chocolate Espresso Cookie bakers:

Vivian@ Let's Try These said "You see, if I don't give the cookies away then I end up eating them... this is not good! Nope, its always best if I can give the goodies away!"  :)

Christine@Whimsical Bakery said "Any cookie recipe that starts with melting chocolate & butter together is going to be fudgyyyyy and so gooey & rich!"

Katrina@Baking and Boys said "Even though I left the espresso out of these Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies, turns out they are a great base for a nice brownie-like chocolate cookie with all kinds of acceptable mix-ins!"

Juliana @ Horneando Algo made fabulous trifles with her cookies. Check out her blog to see the pictures of those trifles. Grab a napkin, you'll be drooling!

Julie@Someone's in the Kitchen kept adding different ingredients each time she made another batch. Check out her blog. All of her ideas sound delicious!

Now I have a confession to make....  I made the Wild Blue Energy Chews but they turned out to be the most awful gray-colored, hard-as-a-rock "cookie" that I have ever seen. I tried subbing my own oatmeal raisin recipe for the mix and it just went wrong from there, I guess. Anyway, I was so appalled by the way they turned out, I threw them away without even thinking of taking a picture of them. It's for the better. No one would want to look at my blog again after seeing such a disaster. So...moving on..... Everyone is entitled to a fail now and then, right?

I hope that you are enjoying the Cookie Carnival like I am! Everyone is invited to join us. You don't even have to be a blogger. **What you need to know in order to bake along with us!**

I'd hoped to reveal a few changes to the Cookie Carnival last month but it looks like it will be a bit longer before anything changes. Stay Tuned to see what happens!

Happy Baking!
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