Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Grilled Dessert Bananas


I had heard about grilling bananas in their peel and just had to make them. My kids love bananas, so I thought these bananas would be the perfect dessert for them. Turns out I was wrong, the kids just looked at them like, "What did she do to our bananas?" However, the adults loved them! 

All you have to do is make a slit in the banana and stuff it full of delicious toppings, then grill it on LOW until outside of banana peel is brown. I used chocolate chips, marshmallows and chopped peanuts in ours, but there is an array of toppings I would like to try. A few I have thought of are:

coconut
caramel pieces
pineapple
sprinkles (gotta have the sprinkles!)
peanut butter baking chips
granola
hot fudge syrup - no need for preheating
diced strawberries
brownie bits

Just serve these over ice cream, maybe adding some whip cream and a cherry for the ultimate banana split! They are also wonderful served on a plate by themselves, with a spoon. Enjoy!

Monday, August 27, 2012

French Fry Nachos {Family Game Night #DipDipHooray}


Ever since our kiddos were born I have been waiting (patiently) to start playing board games with them. I have so many fun memories of playing board games as a child, it was something I wanted to pass down to my children. Well, the wait is up and there is no turning back!

I was inspired for this game night by Dip Dip Hooray!, a current promotion through Heinz, Tyson and Hasbro. After purchasing Heinz Ketchup, Tyson Chicken Nuggets or Ore-Ida french fries - you can enter the UPC codes on to their Dip Dip Hooray! website and gain access to different Hasbro games every week and be in the running for prizes! Here are the rules, easy-peezy!

We needed a few things for our game night, so we headed to Walmart. (Check out our shopping trip on Google+) First we checked out games...


and some items for a quick meal...


then we headed over to Grandma and Papa's for a night of fun!!

The kids were more than happy to have french fries and chicken nuggets to eat. The ketchup was just icing on the cake to them...


For the adults, we decided to whip up some French Fry Nachos...


My kids see it as a special snack and I see it as quick and easy.


It is so cute to see kids using dipping sauces. Although he is only 20 months old, my son is less messy than me when it comes to dipping his food. :)


Dip Dip Hooray! It's almost game time boys. :)


For our French Fry Nachos all we used were baked Ore-Ida Crinkle Fries, beanless chili, salsa, cheese and jalapenos.


Just pile all the ingredients, in that order, and bake until heated through. These were a hit!


After the food was devoured we headed to the dining game table. I had a little helper assist in setting up Candyland. He was a bit of a board hog...


Of course I had to sweeten the deal for everyone, after all - how could we play Candyland and not have some sweets?? These cupcakes were the perfect companion to the game. :)


When you sign up and play Dip Dip Hooray, the prizes that can be won are awesome. Ranging from board games to gift cards valued at up to $350 - they all promote fun with games! Make sure to check out all the information on the Dip Dip Hooray's rule page.

To connect with Heinz, you can find them on twitter, https://twitter.com/DipandSqueeze, or facebook, http://www.facebook.com/HeinzKetchup.

For Tyson, they are also on twitter, https://twitter.com/ClubTysonLive, and facebook, http://www.facebook.com/TysonChickenNuggets.

And Ore-Ida can be found on facebook, http://www.facebook.com/oreidapotatoes.

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective BiasTyson and Heinz #CBias #SocialFabric.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies


Like Father...
While I am making these cookies, Mr. Hungry Harp mentions that he was wondering how I was going to make Chocolate Crinkle Cookies without chocolate chips. He said that while "looking for snacks" he noticed there were not any chocolate chips in the cupboard. Note that the time that he would be looking for a snack, it's nighttime and I am fast asleep.

Is it possible, that while I am fast asleep at night, my husband thinks about my baking schedule the next day and notices I am missing an ingredient in the pantry? Possible yes, but not likely. I think it's more like he knows that I buy chocolate chips in bulk and can sneak some without me knowing...

Like Son...
While I am making these cookies, I swear that a 1 ounce square of unsweetened chocolate has gone missing from the counter. Looking all over, it's nowhere. So, I just think I am crazy and keep mixing. Then a little finger taps me on the leg and I look down to my son, chocolate dripping from his mouth. He has never had unsweetened chocolate before and let me tell you, the look on his face was priceless. It described something like, "Why would chocolate do this to me??"


Like Father, Like Son...
The two of them are sweet-sneakers, sometimes even not being very sneaky. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, Bubba pulls up a chair so he can get a real good look at them. I see his hand reaching out to grab one and I tell him to wait because the cookies were still hot. In the other room, Mr. Hungry Harps hears me say this (the word cookies) and he is in the kitchen before I can blink - I guess to get a good look at them as well...

I put them both to work, rolling dough - after all, we had time to kill while waiting for the cookies to cool off. ;)

These cookies are wonderful and turn out beautiful!


Chocolate Crinkle Cookies - PRINTABLE RECIPE
adapted from CHOW
Prep Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Ingredients
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Directions
1. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
2. In small saucepan, over low heat, add chocolate and oil. Melt chocolate, stirring often, until smooth. Remove from heat.
3. In a stand mixer, add sugar and melted chocolate. Using the paddle attachment, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Stop mixer, scrape sides and return to medium speed. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Stop mixer again, scrape sides and resume mixing on low speed. Add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Stop mixer, scrape sides and refrigerate for 2 hours until dough is firm.
4. Heat the oven to 350°F and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
5. Roll dough into 1” balls, roll in powdered sugar and place on baking sheet 2” apart.
6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until edges of cookies are set.
7. Let cool on cookie rack and then devour with milk. ;)

Monday, August 20, 2012

I'm Back with Buffalo Chicken Lasagna!!


How do you come back after an unannounced hiatus from blogging? I have no idea, but I figured an explanation with an awesome recipe couldn't hurt.

We got some very unexpected news... that we are pregnant! Very unexpected, but very exciting. :) We are almost 14 weeks along and already anticipating meeting our new, little ones. Wait, ones? Yes, there are 2 peas in this pod, twins! Trust me, it was an overload of unexpected news. But we are very happy and looking forward to the growth of our family. :)

The news was a bit overwhelming at first - the thought of doubling our children was definitely mentally challenging. Not in a bad way, more of like a " Holy moly, what needs to happen now?" way. A lot of brainstorming had left me in no condition to be blogging. Then on top of the mental exhaustion - fatigue and morning sickness set in, in doses far greater than either of our previous pregnancies. Needless to say, I have been relaxing and enjoying the precious time I have to spend with Bubba and Blue before the twins arrive.

So, I am back to the extent that I can be. There may be short breaks here and there, but no more taking months off. I am sorry that I didn't announce my little "vacation", everything was just so unexpected.

One thing I didn't stop, was cooking, so I do have quite a few gems to share! The last recipe I shared was Homemade Ricotta Cheese, over a month ago... Well, of course I had to make something with that wonderful mound of soft cheese. :) Have you ever heard of Buffalo Chicken Lasagna? I found it while scouring the internet for a chicken lasagna. A lot of results came back for Alfredo Chicken Lasagna, but I wanted something even more out-of-this-world.(Sidenote: I am totally following the landing of Curiousity on Mars by NASA and am LOVING it!!) This Buffalo Chicken Lasagna was exactly what I was in search of. :) It is complete with everything you would need for a plate of hot wings; hot sauce, chicken, blue cheese, carrots and celery. It is both delicious and able to satisfy a crazed salt craving. Score!


Buffalo Chicken Lasagna - PRINTABLE RECIPE
adapted from Wingless Buffalo Chicken Lasagna
Ingredients
1.5 lbs ground chicken
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
1 bottle (12 ounces) buffalo wing sauce - I used Frank’s RedHot Buffalo Wing Sauce
1/2 cup water
1.5 teaspoons Italian seasoning
salt & pepper to taste
1 carton (15 ounces) ricotta cheese - I used 1 batch of Homemade Ricotta Cheese instead
1-3/4 cups (7 ounces) crumbled blue cheese, divided
1/2 cup minced Italian flat leaf parsley
1 egg
9 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package
5 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Directions
1. In largish pan, brown chicken - drain and return to pan. Add onion, celery, carrot and cook until tender. Stir in garlic, tomatoes, wing sauce, water, italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Bring mixture to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes.
2. While chicken mixture is simmering; combine ricotta cheese, 3/4 cup blue cheese, parsley and egg. Mix thoroughly and keep cool in fridge.
3. Heat oven to 350 and grease a 9x13 baking dish. I started the layering with sauce mix and then followed this order: 3 noodles, ricotta cheese, sauce mix, mozzarella, blue cheese. I repeated this order 2 more times.
4. Cover with foil or lid and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for about 30 minutes longer or until cheese is starting to bubble and turn golden. (Too bad cheese doesn’t really turn into gold, huh?)
5. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!!

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading - I truly have missed you all!!

Photography Class with Sears Grilling {Pt. 7} #SoFabU #GrillingIsHappiness

This is the final week in our Sears Grilling Photography class, I can't believe how fast 7 weeks went by!! For my final post on the subject, I want to share some of my favorite photographs from the class. :)

It all started with a lesson in how to take awesomesauce Path to Purchase photos. Tips on signage, selection and angles really helped me through this one!


Then a lesson in Product Photography sweetened the deal - especially with Sears providing us with a new grill and accessories!! I learned a lot from this lesson, as Product Photography was not something I had much practice in. And how fun is taking pictures of such a great new purchase?!?


Third was the lesson in taking photographs of food on the grill. Learning new things, such as the rule-of-thirds, shutter speed, aperture ISO and DOF, was a bit of a challenge yet very rewarding.


The next subject was food photography. Now, I thought I knew a thing or two about this topic - but I didn't. This was probably the toughest week, but it was by far my favorite. Not only did we learn which lighting works best with food, we also learned about food styling and some awesome secrets of the food photography world! With still A LOT of room for improvement - I will continuously be referring back to this lesson.


And last, but not least, was putting all of our new skills to the test...


I am so excited to start taking pictures using ALL of the great information we were provided with. Ever since Hungry Harps started, I have been wanting my pictures to look more professional - and I truly think this class has helped me get closer to achieving that goal. I am so grateful to have been a part of the Sears Grilling Class, it has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Sears #CBias #GrillingIsHappiness. All photos and opinions are my own.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Photography Class with Sears Grilling {Pt. 6} #SoFabU #GrillingIsHappiness


This week in our Sears Grilling Photography class the assignment was to host a little BBQ for our family and take some delicious photos. We kept it simple and served food that the kiddos would definitely enjoy - hot dogs, potato chips and a smores dessert. I did set up a condiment bar for the adults that included jalapenos, pickles, relish, sauerkraut and chili. The kids are happy enough with plain hot dogs - not even ketchup or mustard...

This is by far the prettiest picture of potato chips I have ever taken. ;)


While I was able to keep lighting in mind - there was nothing I could do for these Turkey Franks. This is how they looked directly off the grill - shriveled and old. It was a lesson all on it's own in food photography; buy beef franks. 


I have been just dying to use this dish and finally got the perfect opportunity!! Those are coconut marshmallows - they are just as good as they sound. :)



We just put some of the 'mallows on skewers and cooked them on very low heat, making sure to turn them every 30 seconds. The coconut helped in avoiding them from sticking to the cooking grate.


This picture makes me drool all over my keyboard. ;)


How could I not share this picture??


I had a lot of fun with this assignment and found that taking pictures of food has become a little bit easier for me. We only have one more week of class left, I can't believe how fast time goes by! My grill cover is ready for the class to be over, just so that it can get some extended use. ;) Thank you so much for reading this week!

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Sears #CBias #GrillingIsHappiness. All photos and opinions are my own.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Photography Class with Sears Grilling {Pt. 5} #SoFabU #GrillingIsHappiness


This was the toughest week thus far in the Sears Grilling Photography class - the lesson was all about photographing plated food. Whereas I thought I knew a thing or two about taking pictures of food, I really didn't know anything and still have a lot to learn.

The toughest part for me this week was definitely learning how to use props in my photographs. I tend to just take pictures of a finished product, not plated, and call it a day. So this was a bit of a challenge, but a fun one. For the main subject of this weeks photographs I used basic BBQ food; hot dogs, chicken thighs and hamburgers. The idea was to see how awesome I could make these BBQ staples look by using props (which includes other food).


Another part of this week's lesson was how to make the actual food appear more appetizing. It is amazing the secrets that go into professional food photography. Most of the secrets will end up making the food inedible, but it's about the appearance - not the taste. For example, using fabric softener on pancakes will stop them from absorbing syrup and spray deodorant will give fruit a shine. Delicious stuff like that, very informative to say the least.


And last but not least was instruction on lighting. No flashes were permitted this week while taking photos, we were to use all natural light. A few handy tips were given on how to enhance natural light inside your home for taking photographs. One way is to cover a window with wax paper, thus creating one big light, and also the use of mirrors to create a direct light towards the main subject. This part of the lesson was a lot of fun to play around with. The picture above and below are the same hamburgers, the one above was taken inside and the one below was taken outside. A little change of lighting can create a big difference!


Our class has only 2 weeks left and I can't wait to find out what our next lesson includes! This has been an awesome opportunity and a great reason to be grilling almost every night!! Thank you for reading. :)

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Sears #CBias #GrillingIsHappiness. All photos and opinions are my own.