Finally moved the blog!!!!

The blog makeover is complete!!!!! Please visit the new blog at http://www.lifewiththecrustcutoff.com/

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Blog Makeover!!

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog I decided to treat it to a complete makeover.  I am switching to a new server, getting my own domain, using some fancy backgrounds and buttons and hopefully starting some new sections!  So please excuse any dust kicked up during the move and once everything is settled in place I promise the first thing I post will be that amazing cheesecake stuffed carrot cake I made for Easter.

So as for this blog…. I’ll see you in another life brother (oh yes, I was cheesy enough to quote Lost, sorry!!)

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Spring Break!

I have been a horrible blogger!!  I have been super busy this past month with a toddler and we had family visiting and then Easter and I think I have gotten 10 hours of sleep since March lol.  When I do get 10 minutes to myself I usually try to cram in as many chapters of whatever new book I am reading, my Kindle Fire has made it way too easy to consume 2-3 books a week.  And of course I probably spend way too many hours on Pinterest (follow me!) when I should be blogging (working on a Pinterest post now!)

Dean has kept me incredibly busy, he gets into even more now!  Just yesterday he dumped out his entire huge bottle of powder in the bedroom, but he chose to dump it right in front of the fan so now my entire house is coated in a fine layer of powder.  The up side is everything smells like lavender and chamomile lol.

He has been his usual troublesome self, just this weekend he drug the case of water to the fridge, stood on it, opened the freezer and got out an ice cream sundae for himself thus proving nothing is out of reach when your toddler is super tall!

He sleeps in “the big bed” with me now which of course I do not mind especially when he curls his little hand under my chin to go to sleep and I can bury my face in his curls which always smell like shampoo, cookies and outside.  He has also finally adopted a “lovey” a special thing he cannot go to sleep without.  He got “Bunny” last year for Easter and it is his new best friend at night, Bunny always gets tucked in and kisses before bed too!

This Easter was great, my husband’s family was in town for a week and we had a great time with them.  We had gorgeous weather on Easter and I braved taking Dean to church which proved a mistake, he immediately did not want to be there or in the nursery and instead preferred to crawl under the pews and then melt like jello and scream when I would try to stop him so I whisked him off to the room off the sanctuary where he then proceeded to wreak more havoc, trying to open doors and pull fire alarms!!!!  I was exhausted and it was only noon.  The rest of the day went smoothly with egg hunts at my grandparent’s house, lots of food, lots of family and lots of fun.  I made an amazing carrot cake stuffed with cheesecake and that was to die for, it was seriously like the best cake I have ever eaten!!  I am working on getting that post up today.

Well looks like I need to go as I just heard the unmistakable sound of Dean pouring the dog food dish in the sink AGAIN -_-

P.S  I was right :(  

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Silk “Tie” Dyed Easter Eggs

These eggs were soo much fun to make and worth the extra time it took.

You need 100% silk ties, and a ceramic or enamel pot, vinegar and an old white tablecloth or sheet or pillowcase.

First you remove the lining from the ties and cut them into large pieces that can fit around an egg, I got about 2 out of each tie.  Then you cut the tablecloth or sheet etc..to the same size.

Then you just take an egg and wrap it in the tie, I kind of rolled it around the egg and tied it at each end, but some people put the egg in the middle of the fabric and pull it up around it and make one tie at the top, which I think I will be doing next year to save some time lol.

Now take the white fabric and wrap the egg again.

Pop them in a ceramic or enamel pot with water and 1/4 cup of vinegar and let boil for 20-40 minutes.

Let cool and unwrap!!!!  The darker and crazier the tie the better!!!

easter, easter eggs, silk tie eggs, tie dyed eggs

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The Hunger Games!!

Today is Hunger Games day!!! I’m going to go see it tonight!  So excited!

I had planned on making cupcakes themed to each district but sometimes such elaborate plans don’t mix with a rambunctious 2 year old.

So instead I got little black bags and got a mockingjay decal for each one, and filled them with all sorts of movie candy, you know Raisinettes, Junior Mints, Sour Patch Kids, Twizzlers, that kind of stuff, so we are ready to go!!!!

If your looking for a snack before the movie don’t forget to check out Peeta’s Cheese Buns they were Katniss’ favorite and I am sure they will be yours too!

Are you going to see the movie?  Did you read the books?

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Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken

Again I saw a fabulous recipe on Pinterest and had to make it immediately and I am sooo glad I decided to.  This recipe was simple and delicious and really does taste better than any chinese take-out sweet and sour.

Sweet and sour chicken is a take-out stand by and it seems to be what most kids order, what kid doesn’t like chicken covered in a sticky sweet sauce?  This version you can make at home for super cheap and you control the quality of the ingredient you put in and you can add your favorite veggies, make the sauce a little spicy if you like, it is completely customizable.   I made a double batch because I knew my family would gobble it up in seconds and the leftovers reheat perfectly.

I like to serve this over my favorite fried rice which is just rice mixed with a little soy, some sauteed onions and a sauteed bag of preshredded cabbage and carrots (coleslaw mix)

This is a complete pantry meal as you probably have everything in your pantry already and all you need is some chicken breasts and you can whip up this amazing fake out dinner any night of the week.

Please promise me you will try this one soon, it will become your family’s favorite too!!

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken (adapted from Life as a Lofthouse)

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken
The chicken coating:
3-4 boneless chicken breasts
salt + pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil
The sweet and sour sauce:
3/4 cup sugar
4 tbs ketchup
1/2 cup vinegar ( I used a quarter cup vinegar and 1/4 cup pineapple juice)
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp garlic salt
 Start by preheating your oven to 325 degrees. Rinse your chicken breasts in water and then cut into cubes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Dip chicken into the cornstarch to coat then dip into the eggs.  Heat your 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet and cook your chicken until browned but not cooked through. Place the chicken in a 9×13 greased baking dish. Mix all of your sweet and sour sauce ingredients in a bowl with a whisk and then pour evenly over the chicken. Bake for one hour and during the baking process you will need to turn the chicken every 15 minutes.

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Chicken 2 ways

The other night I made chicken 2 ways, wrapped in bacon for us adults and skewered on popsicle sticks for the kids.  Both were a big hit!

The bacon wrapped version was delicious and was topped with a sweet and tangy mix of brown sugar and honey dijon mustard but you could certainly top them with whatever sauce you wanted or your favorite bbq sauce.  They were a cinch to put together and cooked in no time.  I serve them with cheesy potatoes or just simple mashed potatoes and it is a winner with everyone.

For the kids I decided to go a fun route and put some of the chicken tenders on popsicle sticks.  I made half the batch with a crunch cornflake coating and then other half I simply seasoned with pepper and garlic salt.  It was a new fun way to eat dinner and the kids really liked it.

Sweet and Tangy Bacon Wrapped Chicken

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds of boneless skinless breasts cut into strips or 2 pounds chicken tenderloins
A pound of bacon (thinner is better, this is not the best place for a thick slice of bacon)
Honey dijon mustard
Brown sugar
or
Your Favorite BBQ sauce

DIRECTIONS

This could not be simpler

  • Line a sheet pan with foil
  • In a small bowl mix about a cup of brown sugar with 2 tablespoons mustard (add more mustard or sugar to taste)
  • You want the mixture to be thick.
  • Wrap each strip with a slice of bacon.
  • Place chicken on tray and spoon the sauce of the top.  Don’t worry about spreading the sauce it will melt and coat in the oven.
  • Bake in oven at about 350-400 until chicken is cooked through and bacon is crispy.
Chicken Pops

Chicken Pops (adapted from Weelicious)

INGREDIENTS

Chicken tenderloins (white stringy piece removed)
Popsicle sticks
Cornflakes
Spray oil

DIRECTIONS

Line a sheet pan with foil, spray with a little oil.

Stick a popsicle stick in the bottom of a tenderloin and gently work it up the tenderloin, it should be relatively easy to do

Repeat with all tenderloins.

Now you can dress these up however you want, bbq sauce, honey mustard, crispy, plain, however your kids like them.

I put some garlic salt and pepper in the food processor with some plain cornflakes and just let it go till it was all crushed up.

Then I dipped half of the chicken in the cornflake mixture.

For the other half I just sprinkled with pepper and garlic salt.

Wrap the handles in foil so they do not burn.

For the cornflake ones I sprayed the tops with a little oil.

Bake at 350-400 until cooked through.

Pull off the foil and watch the kids devour them!

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Peeta’s Cheese Buns

So I love books, I devour them!  I always have.  When I was 11 I was done with Judy Blume and had moved onto Stephen King and The Clan of the Cave Bear series.  I become obsessed with the stories and always declare the book “the best book ever.”  That only lasts until the next book rolls around.  There are a few favorites of mine that I deem truly “The best books ever”, Stephen Kings “The Stand” “The Skeleton Crew” “Under the Dome” “The Cell”, Neil Gaimans “Neverwhere”, the Clan of the Cave Bear Series, Michael Endes “The Neverending Story”, and “Follow the River” by James Alexander Thom and I am sure there are a million more I am forgetting!

Recently I read “The Hunger Games Trilogy” and fell in love, I read this series every spare moment I had only to be sad when it was over too quickly.  This series now holds a spot in my list “of best books ever”.  I even got my husband to listen to it on audio while he was working and he’s obsessed now too!

Of course we are super amped for the movie to come out and as we speak I’m anxiously awaiting noon so I can buy my advanced tickets (I know I know, but hey I warned you I was obsessed lol).

One day in the midst of the trilogy I was making lasagna for dinner and wanted a bread on the side and my Hunger Games saturated brain went straight to Peeta’s Cheese Buns (for those who haven’t read the book, the quick of it is Peeta is a baker, he makes cheese buns lol).

So I whipped some up and filed it away to share today for the advanced ticket sales because these buns are too good to wait to share until the movie comes out.

Please please, go read this book and make some cheese buns, I mean really, what more could you want besides a good book and a plate of cheesy carbs?

Peeta’s Cheese Buns (adapted from The Hungry Mouse)

Start with pizza dough, storebought, from a can or from scratch.

Roll it out into a rectangle.

Brush with a little melted butter and garlic salt (optional).

Sprinkle on your favorite cheese, I used mozzarella and parmesan but you can use cheddar, pepperjack or whatever you mix of cheese you like.

Now carefully roll the dough up into a log (like you would cinnamon rolls).

Slice the log into 1-1/2 inch slices.

Place in a buttered dish and bake at 350 till the buns are slightly browned and the cheese is melty.

Take them out, let them cool and there you have it Peeta’s Cheese Buns, the perfect pre movie snack for all your Hunger Games friends!

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Homemade Fruit roll-ups (fruit leather)

I love fruit-roll ups, I would rather have those than chocolate any day.   Since have my son I have been on mission to eat better, so when I was at the store and passed by the fruit snack aisle I considered picking up a box of my beloved fruit-roll ups when I saw they had all natural fruit roll-ups.  The gears went to work in my head and figured I could probably make these myself in more flavors then what the store had to offer.  So I went on the internet, pursued Pinterest and took all the knowledge I had collected and went to work.

You will need

Cookie sheets
Microwave safe Cling Wrap (I used Glad because it is oven safe and does not contain BPA or PVC)
Parchment paper
Fresh or frozen fruits
All natural-no sugar added applesauce
Sugar, honey or agave nectar

Now there is really no recipe I follow more of just a technique.  It seems like a lot of instructions but it is actually very very easy, I promise!! Please do not be afraid to try this recipe because it really is so simple.

Here are some links I found helpful in making my first batch.

Fix me a snack

Our Best Bites

First line your cookie sheets with one sheet of cling wrap, making sure the whole bottom of the pan is covered and it hangs off the ends just a little.

Then in a food processor or blender puree your fruit with a touch of sweetener to taste (more or less depending on your preference, but the fruit gets sweeter as it bakes so don’t add too much).  You need to add a little water, the amount depends on the type of fruit you use, some need more, some need less.  You want your mixture to be thin enough to pour but thick enough to stay put when you spread it.  If you don’t like seeds just push the whole mess through a mesh strainer (strawberries will leave a few seeds even after straining)

Make more puree than you think you need, you want to be able to make at least 2 pans worth and whatever is left over just store in the fridge for another batch.  I just keep a jar or two going that I add leftover puree too and when I get enough I just pour it all on a sheet and it’s “fruit punch” flavor lol.  You can also clean out a ketchup bottle and add some strawberry or raspberry puree to it and dot it over a lighter colored puree to make a mixed flavored gorgeous strip.  I add any leftover strawberry or raspberry puree to an empty ketchup bottle to have on hand for dots or squiggles on my next batch.

Spread the puree on the cookie sheets in as even as a layer as you can get.  You don’t want it too thin, but not too thick either about 1/8 of an inch is good.

Now pop it in the oven set to 140-170.  If your oven doesn’t go that low, you can test it by putting a ball of cling wrap on a foil lined cookie sheet in the oven for an hour, if the wrap doesn’t melt you should be good to go.

I have to fold a pot holder and stick it in the oven door to keep it cracked to regulate the heat and release the condensation that builds up in my oven.

Now ovens differ immensely and does the thickness of your puree so you fruit leather can take anywhere from 3-12 hours.  Mine usually takes about 3 but my oven cooks hot.  So just check your fruits often.  Since it can take awhile I recommend fitting as many pans in at a time. Some people put theirs in before bed and let it cook overnight.  If your not comfortable with that or you think it would be done before you wake up, just pop them in the oven for an hour or two before bed, then turn the oven off, go to bed and in the morning turn the oven back on if it’s not done by then.  It is a very forgiving recipe.

Your fruit leather will be done when you can touch the thickest part and your finger doesn’t leave an indent and it doesn’t look wet.  It will feel dry but not hard and brittle.

Some parts will cook faster than other parts, but do not stress, just take a wet paper towel and squeeze it over the dry parts and pop back in the oven till the whole thing is cooked, just repeat the wetting of the dry parts as needed until the whole pan is dry to the touch.

Take your pans out and let them cool.  Flip the fruit leather onto a piece of parchment paper, peel off the cling wrap and using a pizza cutter, cut off the edges that are too dry or sometimes too wet and make a neat rectangle.  Then just cut into strips.

Then take a piece of parchment paper the length of the fruit leather rectangle, roll it up and cut into strips.

Just place a strip of leather on the strip of parchment and roll it up.  Tape it, put a sticker on it, tie it with a string whatever you have and then voila, home-made fruit roll-ups.

I keep mine in a mason jar, but they will also keep in the fridge for quite some time, however they don’t last very long around here lol.

After the first batch you make you will get the hang of it and know what to look for and pretty soon you’ll be cranking out tons of roll-ups.

Feel free to experiment with flavors and colors.  My favorite is apple with raspberry dots on it.  My husband loves the strawberry I made and I took those little baby food pouches, I found them at Target and they have no sugar added, just fruit, so I opened up a banana/plum one and put little drops of that on the strawberry mixture and he loves it! So look around for those little pouches and add some to your next batch.

fruit roll-up, fruit leather, homemade fruit-roll ups, homemade fruit leather

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Cheez-it Crusted Chicken Tenders

When I saw this recipe floating around the web I knew I had to try my own version and no surprise chicken tenders coated in Cheez-its are yummy!!!  Everyone devoured this chicken tenders and the Cheez-its gave them a ton of crunch with no frying required.

These were a cinch to make, only used a few ingredients and even the picky eaters loved them.

I hope you try these soon, they were amazing and I’m sure your family will love them just as much as mine did :)

Ingredients

1 1/2-2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into strips (or buy the already cut tenderloins)
1 box of Cheez-its crushed in the food processor, the finer the better (I used original but feel free to use whatever flavor floats your boat)
2 eggs
Cup of milk
Splash of hot sauce
1/2  cup your favorite BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)
2 cups flour that has been salt and peppered 

Directions

In a bowl whisk eggs, milk, hot sauce and bbq sauce together.
In another bowl have your flour ready.
In another bowl have your cracker crumbs ready.
Roll a strip in the flour (dust off excess).
Dunk the strip in the egg mixture.
Roll the strip in the cracker crumbs.
Place on a greased cookie sheet (I lined mine with foil for easier cleanup)
Repeat with all strips.
Spray tops of chicken strip with spray oil.
Pop them into a preheated 425 degree oven until crispy and cooked through.

Serve with BBQ sauce or ranch on the side and enjoy! :)  

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