Saturday, March 27, 2010

What can you make with $5 ?

I was reading a fellow blogger's post yesterday Laura of Decor to Adore, and in it she was making these cute dish towels for her kitchen. As I read a little further I realized that it was a challenge that she was doing. A $5 challenge to be exact. It all started over at Living with Lindsay and the challenge is to make a Springtime craft using items from the dollar store and spending only $5. I thought it was a pretty neat idea and Laura came up with some awesome ideas.  So I decided to head out to the store and see what I could find. I knew that I didn't have long to make something and I actually think I may have missed the deadline for entering the challenge but I wanted to do it anyway and share it with you. Here is what I bought and also what I used from home to make my craft.

Can you guess what I am making?   An Apron!!! I love aprons and I always have good intentions to make them but never find the time. I love to hang them in my kitchen for seasonal color and decoration. Especially my vintage aprons.  They make the feel of the kitchen very comfortable just having them hanging around.  Aprons always have a story to tell even this one. It was really simple to do using dish towels for the apron and a flower to make a removeable pin. And Yes it all came from the Dollar Tree along with some fabric and supplies I already had at home.

Now before I do this tutorial for you I have to say that I am not the best seamstress in the world nor a great teacher so please be kind if you do not understand my directions. Sewing still confuses me. LOL

I started with four dish towels and attached them side by side with a simple straight seam. I did carefully match up the bottom of the towels to keep it even all the way across. Having it un-even at the top doesn't matter because it will be cut anyway.

Once they were all sewn together I cut about 5 inches off the top to even up the seam and get rid of some of the unwanted length.

I then ran a couple of loose stiches across the top so that I could gather the material easily.

Using my contrasting fabric that I had on hand  I cut out the waiste band and the ties.
The measurements for these are as follows:

Waistband  10"W x 20" L
2-Ties, each 10" W x 24" L

I then folded each piece in half and pressed with an iron. I then folded them in half again and pressed once more. I opened the fabric pieces up and folded each side in to form what looks like bias tape.

I sewed each side seam of the ties to each end of the waistband.

Then I attached the waistband over the top of the apron and pinned it in place.

Starting at the end of one of the ties and using the zig-zag stitch I stiched all the way across the tie, through the waistband and to the end of the other tie.  I went back over the top too just for the fun of it.

To make my big flower pin, I removed the stem and the center of the flower. I attached a yo-yo that I had made and a vintage button with a needle and thread. I then glued down the edges with my hot glue gun. I attached the pin to the back with my glue gun too. Voila!!! Pretty Spring flower.

Once I put it all together it was really a pretty Spring Apron to make.  Not too bad for a quick $5 project.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Chicken & Broccoli Bake plus Product Review

Howdy All! I hope that each of you have been doing wonderful and are getting ready for the Spring weather. We have had a few beautiful days and now rain again. Either way, it has been a lot warmer and I am all about some warm weather.
In my last post I had told you about a family of online stores called CSN that carries everything from kids bedding to cookware and great gifts for everyone, and that they asked me to review one of the products that they carry.  Well I must say that I recieved the item and I am really enjoying it. Here is the product that they sent me.
Isn't so pretty?  A 13" baker dish in the wheat or gold color if you will. It matches my dinner plates that I already have. The piece is by Signature Housewares and is the Sorrento collection.
They carry a beautiful variety of colors such as the burgundy, sage, ruby and chocolate colors. I love mixing them too.
I have already used the baker for marinating my meats, baking a bread pudding and even baking this new dish I came up with, my Chicken and Broccoli bake.  Is it a healthy dish that works with my new healthy eating habits?  You bet it is!!! It packs a good flavor too.  The baker dish made it look so pretty too.  What a great way to serve your meal in style.
Thanks so much CSN for allowing me to review this great product. I can't wait to get more pieces to go with my collection. 
 Now how about that recipe! A very simple one that can easily be prepared for a weeknight meal. 

Chicken & Broccoli Bake

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 c. broccoli florets
1 1/2 c. low fat chicken broth
3 Tbs. Whole wheat flour
1/4 c. I can't believe it's not butter SPRAY
1/4 c. fat free parmesan style grated cheese
3 slices Double Fiber Bread (dried & made into bread crumbs)
1-2 Tbs. Italian seasoning (I use Herby)
Salt & Pepper

Directions:  Boil chicken with about two tablespoons of salt until tender and no longer pink.
Steam broccoli florets sprinkled with salt if desired,until tender.
Combine bread crumbs with the Parmesan cheese and Italian Seasoning.
Spray bottom of casserole dish with cooking spray. Drain broccoli and add to the bottom of dish.
Shred chicken and add to the top of broccoli.
In a sauce pan over medium/low heat, combine the 1/4 cup butter spray and 3 Tablespoons of whole wheat flour. Whisk into what looks a bit like a thin paste. Slowly add the chicken broth whisking continuously until smooth. Season with pepper if desired. One the sauce has thickened a bit and is bubbly, pour over the chicken.
Cover the chicken with the bread crumb mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think.  Until next time, Happy Healthy Eating!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Guilt Free~Cherry Berry Cheesecake Dessert

So being on this healthy kick for almost two weeks now has really given me a challenge when it comes to desserts. You all know I love my butter and sugar.  I did manage to come up with this GUILT FREE, that's right folks GUILT FREE dessert that tastes pretty darn good. A Cherry Berry Cheesecake Dessert to be exact. Very simple in it's preparation and quite satisfying when you are losing your mind over the sugar detox that is taking place in your body. :)
Try it out and let me know if you think it is worthy of being a go to dessert for the healthy days.

Cherry Berry Cheesecake Dessert

1 box sugar free cherry jell-o
1 box sugar free cheesecake pudding mix (instant)
1 3/4 cups skim milk
1 1/2 cups boiling water
3 cups sliced strawberries

In a medium bowl add the water and bring to a boil in the microwave. Add the jell-o packet and stir until dissolved. Place this in the freezer until it has cooled down but still liquified.
In a separate bowl, pour in the milk and whisk in the cheesecake pudding mix.
Once the mixture has thickened pour it into a medium casserole dish or small trifle bowl.
Top the pudding with the sliced berries.
Slowly pour the cooled jell-o mixture over the top. Cover and refrigerate until set.

Here is my finished product. Super Duper Easy!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Disaster Zone & Loco Chicken & Rice

Wow! What a weekend. Do you remember me telling you that I was making my Father in Law's birthday cake. Well, I did make it. I spent two days on it and it WAS great. Was being the key word here. Before I get into that part of the story though, I will tell you what I did to this great cake. I made it in three tiers, and two flavors (because it had to feed about 75 people) and I decorated it like a mountain side complete with the waterfall, rocks, cattails, 3D trees,a rustic wood plank sign annnnnddd 2 bucks and a fawn. Whew! A lot of stuff on the cake. Why am I describing this to you? Because I was not able to get a picture of it before this happened......

GASP!!!! Okay...are you back in your seat yet? What had happened dear, sweet, loving, precious husband was driving the SUV and a light turns yellow. The hesitation of him wanting to go or stop resulted in a heavy pressing of the brake pedal to actually stop the vehicle and PLOP! The cake went flying. Our little princess began to cry and tell me the cake was broken. We pull over and get out of the car to assess the true damage and well.....let's just say the rest is history. The only thing that managed to survive was the sign and trees. This being because I was holding them on our long hour trip to the party.

Through my tears and frustration we made it to the party (I did not want to be there at this point) and my dear, sweet, precious, loving husband wisked the cake immediately to the kitchen where I performed the miraculous cake surgery.( I cut it into serving size pieces and gave the people what they wanted) DELICIOUS CAKE!!!!
Mocha Chocolate cake, and traditional birthday cake flavor with a bavarian filling and buttercream frosting.
The party was really nice. My father-in-law was celebrating his 70th birthday and it was his first ever birthday party. My mother-in-law did a great job with the food. She served spaghetti with salad and garlic bread, chicken salad sandwiches (because my father-in-law wanted them ) and the disaster that I brought in the door.
Oh least nothing went to waste and he enjoyed all the attention too.

I did manage to make a pretty yummy and healthy dish for dinner last night too. My mexican creation of Loco Chicken and Rice.
The recipe follows for those who would like to try it.

Loco Chicken and Rice

6  boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 pkt. McCormicks Chicken Taco Seasoning
1/2 C. MCT Oil
1 large red bell pepper
1 large yellow bell pepper
1 large yellow onion
1 1/2 C. Whole Graing Rice
4 C. Chicken Broth
1 jar Pace Picante Sauce
Veggie Cheese
Light Sour Cream

Cut up chicken breasts into strips and place in a large bowl. Drizzle 1/4 cup of MCT Oil over it and add the chicken taco seasoning. Toss to coat and marinate for 30 minutes or overnight.
Cut up the onion and bellpeppers into thin strips. Heat a large skillet on medium heat and add 1/4 cup of MCT oil. Sautee the onions and peppers until semi tender. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Increase heat to medium/high heat and add chicken strips. Cook until browned on both sides and no longer pink inside.
Add the peppers and onions back to the chicken and lower heat to  simmer.
Cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes to deglaze the pan.

In a large saucepan pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add rice, stir and cover. Reduce heat to low and cook aobut 30 minutes or until rice is tender and broth has evaported.
Add the jar of picante sauce and stir.
Plate up the dinner by scooping out the rice onto the plate and topping with the loco chicken and peppers.
Add a dollop of sour cream, cheese and scallions if desired.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Shopping, Baking & Healthy Chicken Fingers

The other day I was introduced to a family of online shops that I did not know existed. Or at least I did not know about all of them. I was completely amazed at the 200+ available sites to shop from carrying everything from kids bedding to cookware.  As I began searching through the CSN sites my first stop was of course at the bakeware and dinnerware.  I was so excited when I saw my dishes on there. They are by Signature Houseware. I was even more excited when I realized they carried the accent pieces to go with them. So get ready for an upcoming post where I will be doing a review on the baking dish in my plate pattern. 
I am excited to see what creative ways I will be able to use it and share with you.  I will definitely be purchasing more pieces from them as well as searching their kids bedding for my little princess a  room makeover. 
Oh My, So many projects going on at one time here at the Cookie Girl's home. Will I ever finish them all? I ask myself why I add more to the mix but I just can't help myself. So once again, I add this extra baking project to the list today. I am off to make a birthday cake for my Father in Law's 70th birthday.  I am pretty lost on what I will do for the decorations but I am sure something will come together. I will post about it later if I survive from NOT eating the frosting. :)
Before I enter into the baking zone  I would like to leave you with a healthy recipe that you can try this weekend.  I promise that you will like it.  Here you gooooooo.......

Baked Chicken Fingers

4 - 5 slices of Double Fiber Bread (dried out and ground into bread crumbs)
2 Tbs. Italian Seasoning (I use the Herby Organic Seasoning)
2 Tbs. Grated Parmesan Cheese
3 Tbs. Water
1/2 C. MCT Oil
3 Medium Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (about 2 lbs.)
2 egg whites
I can't believe it's not butter Spray

Directions: Dry out your bread slices by placing a bakers rack on a cookie sheet.
Then laying the bread slices on top of the rack and bake in a 200 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the bread is dry to touch.  Process the bread in a food processor to get a  small crumb texture.
 Add the Italian herbs and parmesan cheese and mix together.
Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
Wash and pat dry the chicken breasts and cut into strips the size of chicken fingers.
Whisk together the italian dressing mix, vinegar, water and MCT oil until completely blended.
In a bowl, add the chicken and dressing mix. Marinate this for about 1 hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with foil.
Pour the bread crumbs into a shallow pie plate.
Whisk 2 egg whites in a seperate pie plate.
Dip each chicken stip into the egg whites and then roll in the bread crumbs to coat. (they will not be coated completely. This is okay. )
Place the strips on the lined baking sheet.  Spritz with the butter spray.
Bake for 20-30 minutes turning the strips half way through.

Serve on a salad or with veggies. You can even use these for appetizers with a great dip.


Breaded Chicken Fingers

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Cookie Girl Gone Healthy~ McGriddle Style

Having read the title I am sure some of you are wondering, "What is going on with the Cookie Girl?"
It's simple really.  I just want to fit into my swimsuit this year. I am no stranger to health and fitness. My husband was an amateur body builder and I have even been known to train for fitness model competitions. This in no way makes me an expert on the subject but it does give me a little advantage to the journey that I am embarking on for the next few months.  I have a goal that has been set and I need for all of my readers to hold me accountable for this goal. Are you ready? I want to lose 30 lbs. There, I said it. Not as hard as I thought it would be. :)
Now this does not mean that I will not be posting some delicious sweet and savory recipes and pics for you.  As a matter of fact, I have one for you today. It's just a wee bit healthier.
How many of you like the McDonald's McGriddle breakfast sandwiches? I love them but the fat and calorie content are not very swimsuit friendly. How about a reality check on this.
 A Sausage McGriddle has 420 calories, 22 grams of fat, 44 grams of Carbs, 11 grams protein.
Will I ever eat another one? Not sure about that. I do however have a great alternative to this. Wanna see?

I give you the Healthy McGriddle

Healthy McGriddle

2 slices of Natures Own Double Fiber Bread (50 cal. slice)
Cinnamon (optional)
4 egg whites or egg white substitute w/o yolk
2 pieces Canadian Bacon
1 slice Veggie Cheese
Sugar Free Maple Falvor Syrup
*MCT Oil (optional)
NOTE: not all MCT oil is created equal
Butter Flavor cooking spray

Preheat griddle to Medium High heat. In a shallow pie plate whisk your egg whites.  Spray griddle with cooking spray. Dip bread slices in egg white (just like for french toast) place on griddle. Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired.  Brown bread slices on each side and transfer to serving plate.
Spray griddle once more with cooking spray or use 1 TBS. MCT oil. Cook egg whites like scrambled eggs. Fold eggs to fit bread and place on one slice.  Salt to taste if desired. 
Cook the canadian bacon until slightly brown and heated. Place on top of egg whites. Add a slice of veggie cheese and drizzle with a couple of Tablespoons of Sugar Free Syrup. Top with remaining bread slice. Serves One. Enjoy this with your morning coffee and you will be ready to start your day the Cookie Girl Way!
LOL It rhymes. :)

Nutrional information for the Cookie Girl Griddle:
Calories: 239   Protein: 29g   Fat:  21g   Fiber: 10g   Carbohydrates:  26g

*Click here MCT OIL for information on this product.

I am not a physician. If you have concerns or questions about the products that are listed in my recipes please consult with your family doctor before using them.

Wow! What a difference in nutritional value. Try it out and let me know what you think about the flavors.

I have many other recipes that I will be sharing while I am on this healthy journey to swimsuit heaven. :)
I hope that you will enjoy reading these posts and trying new recipes with me.

Here's to Sweet and Healthy eating!
The Cookie Girl

Friday, February 12, 2010

I Heart Valentine's Day!

Ahhhhh Yes! Valentine's day is so very close. I love this special holiday. All of the pink and red makes me giddy like a little school girl waiting for that little paper valentine from the dreamy blue eyed boy in the seat beside her.  Do you remember those days when everyone swpped their valentine cards at school? Those days have since past but the sweet memories linger. Now that my little Princess is getting older she will soon get to make those memories with her school friends and I can't wait to help her make the cutest little valentine for that dreamy blue eyed boy.  Shhhh....don't tell her daddy I said that. He has decided to keep her under lock and key until she is 30!!!
She is only 4 and already stealing hearts. She just performed in her first ballet recital this past weekend and made hearts melt with her smile. Okay...she made my heart and her daddy's heart melt. Can you tell we are proud parents?  Here are a few pictures of her on stage. No stage fright at all.
(By the way, I married that dreamy blue eyed boy and he is still dreamy and Oh so wonderful.)

Okay, I got a little off  the Valentine subject for a second but I could not resist sharing my pics with you.
Since this is such a "SWEET" holiday for me  I would like to share with you a couple of treats that I made to celebrate.  There is nothing like peanut butter and chocolate together. Don't you agree? One of my all time favorite treats is the Reese cup. They have the Double Peanut Butter Hearts out for Valentine's. Yum!  I think I can do one better than that. How about Peanut Butter Brownies covered in chocolate? Oh, Yeah! That's the ticket. Just wait until you see what I did with the scraps. :)

It all started with this recipe...


1 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
6 Tbls. butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla flavor

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8 x 2 in. square pan with bakers joy or Non-stick spray.
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a large bowl, beat peanut butter, butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla.
Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 mintues or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool completely. Turn out onto a piece of waxed paper to cut into shapes if desired.

 Cut out the brownies
Melt your chocolate morsels in the microwave. (DO NOT GET WATER IN THE CHOCOLATE)
It will seize up and ruin the chocolate.
Using a spatula, cover the bottom of the brownie with chocolate and place on bakers rack chocolate side up. you can place them in the freezer for a couple of minutes to speed up the drying process.

This is a messy process but worth it.
Now cover the sides and top of brownies with chocolate.
Place back on the bakers rack and into freezer for a few minutes.

You can leave them as is or add a little more to dress them up. I used white chocolate to decorate them.
store them in a single layer in an air tight container. You can package them seperately for gifts too.

I had a lot of left over brownie pieces too. I've always been taught, "Waste not, Want not".
So I took a little time to make some brownies pops. Here's how.
I used my food processor to make crumbs and then added a little cream cheese frosting to it.

I forgot to take a picture of the brownie mix as I rolled it into balls. But that is what you do. Just roll it into 1 1/2" balls. Place on a waxed paper covered cookie sheet and freeze for abot 15 minutes.
I used white chocolate to cover them . I melted the chocolate in the microwave and added a little marshmallow and coconut flavored oil to it. (It was so good)
Remove the balls from the freezer and insert sucker sticks into each ball. Dip into the chocolate and gently tap and swirl to remove excess. You can add sprinkles like I did or get a little more creative.

Here is the finished product with a few heart shaped chocolate lollipops added in.
My inspiration came from Bakerella. If you haven't seen her creative pops you should really check her blog out.

As Always....Enjoy! And Happy Valentine's Day!

The Cookie Girl