Artichoke & Jalapeno Ranch Dip: A Tasty Kitchen Recipe

Artichoke Ranch Dip
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I hope you all had a great holiday with your loved ones. I know we did! Christmas may be over, but with New Year's coming up, the need for good party food isn't over. I've got a delicious dip here that not only tastes great, is actually HEALTHY. Well, healthy insomuch that is uses creamy Greek yogurt and light mayonnaise to avoid added calories.

Throw in some ranch seasoning, hearty artichoke hearts, and spicy jalapenos, and you've got a deliciously decadent dip (now say that as fast as you can), that will be a great addition to any New Year's party spread...or football party.

Artichoke Ranch Dip
Have I got you drooling yet? No? Well, head on over to the Tasty Kitchen blog for my full step-by-step recipe post. You can grab the super handy printable recipe while you're at it!

Artichoke Ranch Dip


My Favorite Christmas Sugar Cookie

Sugar Cookies
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This is going to be a super quick post, I'm sure you're all neck deep in holiday baking, last minute christmas shopping, and wrapping mountains of presents.

But I just had to share a great recipe I tried today for cut-out sugar cookies. This recipe is by the awesomely talented Laurie, at Simply Scratch, and it's the best recipe I've tried for cut-out sugar cookies.

Usually my doughy men resemble some kind of Frankenstein mutation, turning into those cookies you stuff out of sight, never to embarrass you by actually being seen, let alone offered to company. But these babies had the perfect consistency making them super easy to roll out all pretty. Did I mention they taste awesome too? So buttery and light, and when you slather them with Laurie's Vanilla Frosting...oh man!
Sugar Cookies
Watch out Santa! Your Christmas cookies might be mysteriously missing tomorrow night...or at least missing a limb.

My little guy had so much fun making these, and was very proud of his army man sugar cookie he created.
Sugar Cookies

For the recipe, head over to Laurie's blog, Simply Scratch!

Enjoy!
Amber


Homemade Pumpkin Spice Mocha Frappe - Holiday Flavors

Homemade Mocha Frappe

Do you remember my Homemade Iced Mocha Frappe's? I love being able to make my own coffee drinks at home, without having to kill my wallet by going to Starbucks. It's so easy to make your own, and you can customize them any way to want.

Not a fan of cold drinks in the winter? Not a problem, just leave out the ice and keep your coffee hot instead of chilling it...now you've got yourself a snuggly, warm version.

Some of my favorite versions are Pumpkin Spice, White Chocolate Peppermint, Caramel, and Cinnamon. I just make a homemade syrup to flavor the mocha's how I want. For a Pumpkin Spice Mocha, I like to use the Pumpkin Spice Syrup I used in the Pumpkin Spice Hot Apple Cider.

So, here's a remix on my homemade Mocha Frappe's - holiday style!

Pumpkin Spice Mocha Frappe
Serves: 2  Printable Recipe

1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
1/2 cup milk
2 cups ice cubes
2-3 tbsp sugar
2-3 tbsp chocolate syrup
2-3 tbsp pumpkin spice syrup
whipped topping (for garnish)
chocolate syrup (for garnish)

Pumpkin Spice Syrup (adapted from Savvy Eats):
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp ginger

Directions:

Brew up your coffee...make it strong baby. Nobody likes weak, watery coffee.  Now allow it to chill for a bit. You do the same.  

To make the pumpkin syrup: Combine everything in a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the mixture becomes thick and syrupy. Store in the fridge until ready to use.

For frozen Pumpkin Spice Mocha Frappe: Add chilled coffee, milk, chocolate and pumpkin syrups, sugar, and ice cubes into your blender, blend until smooth. Pour into a nice frosty glass, top with whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and whatever else your coffee-loving heart desires. 

For hot Pumpkin Spice Mocha: Combine hot coffee, chocolate and pumpkin syrups, sugar and milk. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream and extra syrup.

Enjoy!

Amber
Homemade Mocha Frappe


Cinnamon Bark Cookies: An Oldie But A Goodie

Cinnamon Bark Cookies

I've got a really unique Christmas cookie in my archives. It was just sitting there....all lonely...thinking it would never again get to share its Christmas deliciousness with food lovers again. So, I decided to dust it off and share it again. It's been a couple of years since I first posted this one, so I thought it was time to give it some love.

This cookie is kind of time consuming to make, but the results are so pretty it's worth it. It's a crisp, slightly buttery cookie with a mild cinnamon flavor. Perfect for eating with a hot mug of cocoa or cup of coffee.

Want the recipe? You can get it in my original post for Cinnamon Bark Cookies.

Enjoy!

Amber

Cinnamon Bark Cookies


A Day of Remembrance & Silence




Candy Cane Kiss Shortbread Bars

Candy Cane Kiss Shortbread Bars

I have a confession. I may or may not have eaten an embarrassing amount of Hershey's candy cane kisses yesterday.
The evidence.

Oh come on.  Do you really think I ate all those by myself? No, wait...don't answer that. But let's just say I had, can you blame me?

Look how pretty they are.

While I did eat one or two, ahem, let's just say an indeterminable amount. Most of them went into making these puppies. I call them Candy Cane Kiss Shortbread Bars. A buttery shortbread crust, a layer of toasted macadamia nuts and melty candy cane kisses, make these bars delicious.
Candy Cane Kiss Shortbread Bars


Candy Cane Kiss Shortbread Bars

Yield: 16 bars   Printable Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 salt
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
2 (10-oz) bags Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. In an electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt. Press the mixture into the bottom of a greased 13 x 9 pan. Spread the chopped nuts evenly over the crust.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

Place the unwrapped candy cane kisses in a blender or food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Spread the candy pieces evenly over the hot crust/nuts layer. Allow to sit until the heat from the crust has melted the candy. You may need to use a spoon to evenly spread the melted candy. It doesn't need to be smooth, just make sure all of the crust is covered.


Allow to cool in the refrigerator until the candy has hardened and set back up. Cut into bars. Eat and enjoy!
Candy Cane Kiss Shortbread Bars

Recipe Notes:
I experimented with several ways to spread the candy on the crust. Spreading the blended pieces was the best way to keep the pretty swirly effect of the candy cane kisses, while getting even coverage. Melting the candy beforehand then pouring over the crust will result in a solid pink candy layer, rather than the swirled effect. Also, when cutting the bars, make sure your knife goes all the way to the pan and your cuts are clean. Otherwise the candy layer will separate when trying to remove the bars.


Pumpkin Spice Hot Apple Cider: A Tasty Kitchen Post

Pumpkin Spice Hot Apple Cider
I love winter - for about thirty days. During this time winter is magical and full of my favorite traditions that capture every sense.

Winter is for hot cocoa and fuzzy blankets. It's for taking fun treks in the snow that turn your nose red and your toes cold, so when you come home all you want to do is get warm and toasty in front of a fire. Winter smells like pine needles, old Christmas ornaments, and sugar cookies baking in the oven.

Yes, I'm known to wax poetic on occasion.

These things are why it's my favorite time of the year....for thirty days. After this, the cold get's really old and I'm ready for sunshine and warmth again.

One of my favorite ways to warm up on chilly days is a hot cup of deliciousness....like this Tasty Kitchen recipe for Pumpkin Spice Hot Apple Cider. Holy cow was this stuff good!
Pumpkin Spice Hot Apple Cider
For the recipe head over to the Tasty Kitchen blog, where you can snag the printable and read the rest of my post.
Enjoy!

Amber
Pumpkin Spice Hot Apple Cider

Reminder: If you haven't already voted for my White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Bars in the Sweetest 16 Recipe Contest, I'd love for you to vote for my recipe. You can vote here.


White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Bars: Sweetest Sixteen Recipe Contest


White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Bars

Good morning! How's your Monday so far? Mine has been hectic. Thanks in part to a forgotten show-and-tell day at my sons school - which resulted in a mad dash back to the house to stash a bag full of toys for him to pick from. Because you know if I had brought just one, inevitably that one would have been the WRONG one.

Yes, my six year old is becoming a big boy. Gone are the days when everything Mommy did was perfect.

Sniff.

Anyway, crisis averted and I made another mad dash back to the house to get this post up. What's the rush you ask? Well, because this post is part of a recipe contest! If you have a soft spot in your heart for dear 'ol Amber, I'd reeeeeally love for you to vote for me.

Hypothetically, I'd come to your house and do all your laundry forever and ever. Hypothetically, of course. That counts...right?

Recently, I was asked to be a part of a Sweetest 16 Baking Recipe Contest, featuring 16 food bloggers. Since I'm a baker at heart and I love experimenting in the kitchen, how could I say no?

THE MISSION: Choose at least one ingredient from a box of goodies I was sent, create a delicious recipe with it. Go head to head against the other great bloggers in a March Madness style sweet 16 contest.

THE RESULT: One of the products I received was a Raspberry Cake and Pastry filling, so I decided to work with that. After rummaging through my cabinets to see what I had, I zeroed in on a fat bag of heaven's nectar - a.k.a white chocolate chips. What goes better with raspberry than white chocolate? So I threw them together and made a pan full of delicious babies that I like to call White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Bars.

They are gooood!

Each blogger will advance by popular vote in a March Madness-style tournament, and voting begins today!! The first round ends at 9:00pm on 12/12, so if you fee like it, pretty please, head on over and vote for my White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Bars!

White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Bars
White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Bars
Yield: 12-16 bars   Printable Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup non-fat dry milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup Solo Raspberry Cake and Pastry Filling


Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and dry milk. Stir in the eggs and oil.. Press two-thirds of the mixture into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Set remaining cake mixture aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the condensed milk, white chocolate chips and butter. Heat uncovered until chips and butter are melted. Stir until smooth. Pour over the crust.

Drop tablespoons of raspberry filling evenly over the white chocolate layer. Using a knife, drag the knife through the raspberry dollops, creating a swirl effect.

Drop teaspoonfuls of remaining cake mixture over the raspberry layer. Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool before cutting.

Optional: Garnish bars with drizzled melted white chocolate.

Enjoy!

Amber

White Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Bars


2012 Holiday Gift Guide: What Every Kitchen Needs

There's just a little over two weeks left until Christmas, and the holiday shopping season is well under way. This was never more clear than on my recent trip/nightmare to Toys 'R' Us.

I'm pretty sure I almost lost a limb or two on several occasions. Note to my fellow parents: Avoid this place like the plague.

During the holidays I love checking out unique kitchen gadgets. Every kitchen needs to have a few awesome essentials and gadgets, and if they look great too, that's just icing on the cake.

Here are a few of my favorite finds...a few even made it onto my own wish list. I'll let you know what Santa brings me. The best part? You find all of these items online.

Perfect.



1.  New Metro Design Beater Blade. Such a good idea. This blade is a scraper/beater fusion. It scrapes the bowl as it mixes, saving you time in your busy schedule.

2.  Anthropologie Poppy Ring baking dish. Bake some brownies in this baby, and you'll want to dive in just to show off the pretty inside. FYI, I'm obsessed with Anthropologie.

3. Holiday Cookie Stamps from stampinup.com. I'm fairly certain Santa would love some cookies made with these.

4. Milk Jug measuring cups from Anthropologie. Besides being totally awesome, these measuring cups are pretty enough to leave out on your counter. No rummaging through your drawers for the right sized measuring cup. Oh come on, I know I'm not the only one who does that.

5. Oster MyBlend personal size blender. This blender is perfect for making single serving smoothies. The canister also doubles as a to go cup - complete with lid. Great for busy mornings!

6. Waring Pro Snow Cone Maker. Treat yourself to one of these and you can enjoy snow cones all year long.

Of course, once you get these fabulous gifts, you need to try them out with a recipe or two...purely for quality assurance purposes. Right?

Blackberry Cobbler Bars

Chocolate Snickers Layer Cake
With persuasion like this, do you really need any prompting to nab a few of these gift ideas for the kitchen lover in your life? What are some of your favorite gift finds this year? If you've come across something great, leave me a comment and let me know!

Happy Shopping!

Amber


Creamy Cheesy White Chicken Chili: Cooking From Your Pantry

Creamy Cheesy White Chicken Chilli

Do you like to hoard certain food items? I do. After being bedridden for months and unable to get to the grocery store, I quickly learned the value of having a well stocked pantry.

Previously, my pantry was shamefully lacking in basic staples. I try to cook with whole, fresh foods when I can, but sometimes that's not possible and you need to pull from your pantry reserves for a while.

Like when your head is constantly in the....porcelain throne. O.K. Side note: After racking my brain for a nicer term for what we all know I mean, I came across some very interesting names for it. Comfort Room. Place of Easement. Necessarium. Really? Who thinks these up?

Anyway, I didn't have a very good stockpile, so my husband was constantly running to the store every other day...or picking up fast food. Long story short, I am obsessed with hoarding the basics now.

My goal is to have a 3 month supply of everything. Should I ever be in that position again, I want the peace of mind knowing my family won't starve...or have to live on junk. So this posts starts my Cooking From Your Pantry series. When you have a cabinet full of ingredients, it's always helpful to have a good collection of recipes to use with it!

This white chicken chili is a recipe I got from my sister-in-law Christel. I love how thick, creamy and cheesy it is, thanks to a generous amount of cream cheese and cheddar cheese added to the mix. It's so hearty and filling, and is a great recipe for cooking from your pantry.

Enjoy!

Amber


Creamy Cheesy White Chicken Chili
Yield: 8-10 Servings   Printable Recipe

2 cans white northern beans
2 cans corn
2 cans diced tomatoes, or 2 tomatoes, diced
2 cans diced green chillies
1 cup water or chicken broth
2 packages white chicken chili seasoning (I use Mccormack)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts, cooked (can also use a rotisserie chicken)
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese
shredded cheddar cheese (about 1-2 cups)

Directions:

Place all ingredients except for the cheddar cheese in a crockpot, and cook on low for 4-5 hours. Stir occasionally. Towards the end of cooking time, stir in the cheddar cheese and allow to melt.

Recipe Notes: This dish also works really well made on the stove top, and is super fast to make. Just throw everything in a big pot and heat up. To save even more time, use a rotisserie chicken instead of having to cook your chicken.

Creamy Cheesy White Chicken Chilli


Chewy Gooey Chocolate Bars

Chewy Gooey Chocolate Bars
I've got another tasty recipe of my mom's here. We just got to visit with them for a week, and she made these bars for us that were so good. 

Of course, anything with chocolate in it gets a thumbs up at our house, so these were destined to be a hit. They are so chewy and gooey right out of the oven, and the next day after they had set up a bit more, they were still chewy and delicious.

I adapted the recipe to suit my own tastes, and I love how simple they are.


Chewy Gooey Chocolate Bars
Yield: 15    Printable Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup non-fat dry milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter


Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and dry milk. Stir in the eggs and oil.. Press two-thirds of the mixture into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Set remaining cake mixture aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the milk, chocolate chips and butter. Heat uncovered until chips and butter are melted. Stir until smooth. Pour over the crust.

Drop teaspoonfuls of remaining cake mixture over top. Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool before cutting.

Enjoy!

Amber

Chewy Gooey Chocolate Bars


Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake
Do you ever come across desserts that surprise you? 

Now, I'm not usually surprised when I come across sugary concoctions. I've been blessed cursed with a sweet tooth that pretty much makes me salivate over any sweet treat you put in my face.

However, once in a while, a certain dessert just happens to taste so much better than I imagined. Like this Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake with an Oreo crust.

My brother-in-law's girlfriend Liz, brought this amazing treat to our Thanksgiving meal last week. A layer of spiced pumpkin goodness, layered on top of creamy cheesecake, on top of a sweet, chunky Oreo crust that just makes every bite better and better.

This is greatness people. Try it, your hips will hate you but your lips will love you!

Disclaimer: Liz put all the hard work that went into making this deliciousness. I totally took advantage of her efforts and snapped a few picks to use for sharing this treat with you guys. I couldn't trust myself to make an entire cheesecake and have it sitting around the house. There's only so much self control a girl can have!

Enjoy!

Amber

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake
(recipe from Girl Meets Bowl)
Yield: 8 servings   Printable Recipe

Filling:
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (14 oz) can condensed milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp maple syrup (the real stuff people)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Crust:
2 sleeves Oreo's (crushed into crumbs)
4-6 tbsp butter, melted

For the crust: Combine crumbs and butter and press into a 9” springform pan. Press a little up the sides of the pan and then wrap the bottom in foil, so you can catch all that great caramelized butter that leaks through.

For the filling: Combine cream cheese, condensed milk, vanilla and syrup. Beat until smooth. Blend in eggs one at a time. Remove 1 1/2 cup of batter and spread into bottom of crust; set aside. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to the remaining batter and stir gently until well blended. Carefully spread over the batter in the crust.

Preheat oven to 325 F. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until center is almost set. Turn oven off, open door, and let the cheesecake just chill out in the oven for awhile. Once cool, refrigerate at least overnight. Tastes even better if you wait a few days.

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake


Cranberry Orange Bars: A Tasty Kitchen Recipe

Cranberry Orange Bars

Do you like cranberries? I think they're one of those love 'em or hate 'em foods. For me, I can't have a holiday meal without my precious cranberry sauce.

There's just something about the sweetness mixed with the tart, that makes each bite of turkey, stuffing, and whatever else you have piled on your plate, taste infinitely better.

In my humble opinion at least. I even sneak into the fridge to grab spoonfuls of the sauce - all on it's own. That's my relationship with cranberry sauce.

Anyway, enough about my love of sauce - the cranberry kind.

I also love cranberries in my desserts, and when I came across this Tasty Kitchen recipe for Cranberry Orange Bars, I just had to give them a try. I love how simple they are, and with just a few ingredients, you can have a great dessert to add to your holiday meal in no time. This also a great way to use up any leftover cranberry sauce you have from your turkey day meal!

You can snag the printable recipe and see my full post over on the Tasty Kitchen blog. So go check it out!

What's your favorite Thanksgiving leftover? Leave a comment below and let me know. :)


Enjoy!

Amber
Cranberry Orange Bars


Mom's Sweet Potato Casserole: Not Just For Thanksgiving

Sweet Potato Casserole


I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal. Mine was full of waaaay too much good food, followed by promises to myself that I would never eat again, which were quickly broken by stealthy trips to the kitchen to pilfer leftovers.

One of my favorite leftovers to eat, is this sweet potato casserole that has been a part of Thanksgiving that dates waaaay back into my childhood.

Of course, when I left home it was one of "those" recipes that I just had to take with me. Thanksgiving just isn't the same without sweet potato casserole.

This casserole is full of perfectly fluffy sweet potatoes, topped with the best crunchy sweet pecan streusel topping. We're not re-inventing the wheel here, many of you have probably had this recipe in some form another. But every year I say, "I need to share my mom's sweet potato casserole."

So here it is.

Enjoy!

Amber

Mom's Sweet Potato Casserole
serves: 8   Printable Recipe

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (about 3-4 medium potatoes)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp almond extract

Topping:
3/4 cup brown sugar
5 tbsp flour
5 tbsp butter, softened
3/4 cup pecans, chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400F. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and roast until soft, about 45-60 minutes. When potatoes are done, remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Remove skin from the potatoes, and slice into chunks.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, place the potato chunks, melted butter and sugar. Whip until combined and potatoes are smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla and almond extracts.

In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar and flour. Using a fork, cut in the softened butter until well mixed. Stir in the chopped pecans until well combined.

Pour the potato mixture into a greased 9x9 baking dish. Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly over the potatoes. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until potatoes are heated through and topping is lightly golden.

Recipe Notes: This casserole can be made up ahead, and stored in the refrigerator before baking. Just pop in the oven and bake as directed. The topping will make more than you need, I always like to make extra so I don't have to skimp on the good stuff.

Sweet Potato Casserole


How Sprinkled With Flour Got Hijacked: I Have A New URL


You know what? November has sucked...big time. I know we're supposed to be feeling all warm and fuzzy and thankful this month, but circumstances sure are making it hard for me to remember that.

Have you noticed that Sprinkled With Flour seems to have disappeared off the face of the planet? That's because I've lost my old domain name (http://www.sprinkledwithflour), which expired while I was absent with my medical issues and miscarriage. It was auctioned off in the blink of an eye, and purchased by another domain company who has yet to respond to my email asking them if I can have it back.

So in the meantime, I've had to register a completely new domain name, which changes my site URL from http://www.sprinkledwithflour.com to http://www.sprinklewithflour.com. At least it's not too different. The major change is that by changing my domain name, I have lost ALL of my old referred traffic and Google rankings. In the eyes of Google, I might as well be a brand new blog, at least until the new URL has had time to get ranked.

At least I still have my Facebook and Twitter pages to direct people to the new URL. So if you're not already a Facebook Fan, please head over there and get connected, then you'll always know where I'm at! :)

I'm in the process of trying to update the new site in as many places as I can. Foodgawker was able to do one switch that updated all of my old submissions to the correct link. Unfortunately, any pins on Pinterest are linked to the old site, so I'm having to start from scratch there too.

So the moral of the story? If you have a custom domain name, make sure you renew in plenty of time to allow for any issues that may arise. Otherwise you risk loosing everything you've worked hard to build up.

Note: I am still Sprinkled With Flour, the only thing that's changed is the URL for my blog. Here's to hoping that company will give me back my domain name. Grrr.


SPECIAL REQUEST, PRETTY PLEASE
1. If you have Sprinkled With Flour listed in a blogroll on your blog, would you mind updating the link to the correct site?
2. If you have recently linked to a recipe on my blog, would you also update the link to the correct site?
3. If you're not already a Facebook fan or Twitter follower, use the pretty links in the side bar to get connected with me. Then you'll never loose me again! :)
4. If you feel like it, a quick shout out on Twitter or Facebook, letting people know that I haven't disappeared and where they can find my new site would be GREATLY appreciated. I would totally come to your house and do all of your laundry for the next 6 months if I could. It's the thought that counts....right?

If you can do any of this, I would be so grateful!

Thanks!
Amber












Chicken Jalapeno Rice Soup: A Letter To Our Baby

Chicken Jalapeno Rice Soup

Warning: This post will be full of raw, honest feelings on the loss of our child. If you don't want to read this type of material today, or are here simply for a recipe, I suggest you skip to the bottom.

This is a hard post for me to write. My last one was filling you in on my pregnancy and the complications I'd been dealing with. Today I have to share that my baby was born into the arms of Jesus last week.

When I went for my 14 week checkup, the doctor wasn't able to find the heartbeat with her doppler, so we went into the next room to check things with an ultrasound. As soon as I saw the monitor and heard the deafening silence, I knew my baby had died, but I still kept praying, "Please God, let her find a heartbeat. Please God." As the doctor turned to me and whispered, "Amber, I'm so sorry." I already knew my baby was gone.

I was scheduled for a D&C the next day, and though having to go through the rest of the day knowing my baby was dead inside of me was hard, waking up from surgery feeling that emptiness was harder.

Miscarriage. It's something that can seem so common, but until you live it, you never know what you've lost. I may not have held my baby in my arms, or created memories together, but I carried the hopes and dreams of what the future was supposed to hold - with this particular baby - in my heart. That is what I have lost.

I've lost the chance to learn this child's personality, to know the contours of their face like the back of my hand, or feel the comfort of their small hand grasping my own. This is more than a setback in the plans for our family. We lost a child. A child that was unique and will never be replaced by another. If I'm being honest, I may not even have the chance to try again. My pregnancies are so difficult on my body and my family, it takes a lot of careful planning and consideration to decide if it's something we can go through again.

I'm hoping, given time, that I'll have the opportunity to give my son a sibling, and know the joy of snuggling a soft, downy head again. Until then, I'm focusing on healing my body from the months of malnutrition, and giving my son all the hugs and attention I wasn't able to give him these past few months.  I'm getting a great start with this delicious soup my sister-in-law made for me while I was recovering, which is a recipe of her friend Victoria Costilla. I was so lucky to have her there helping me, I cannot give her enough praise - thank you Christel!

This soup is full of vitamin C veggies and vitamin E from the brown rice. Did I mention it tastes great? And while it does have jalapenos in it, it's not too spicy at all.

Chicken Jalapeno & Rice Soup
Yield: 9-10 servings    Printable Recipe
(recipe courtesy of Victoria Costilla)

3-4 cups water
2 chicken breasts with bone (or meat from a rotisserie chicken)
3-4 chicken tenderloins (not needed if using rotisserie chicken)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 onion, diced
7-8 cups chicken broth
1 cup brown rice, uncooked
3 stalks celery, sliced
3 carrots, sliced
1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
2 cups frozen green beans
1 cup water
1-2 fresh jalapenos
1/2 tbsp black pepper
pinch of salt (to taste)
cayenne pepper powder
fresh lemon

Combine 3-4 cups water and the chicken breasts and tenderloins, cook until the meat falls off the bone, about 1-2 hours. Turn down the heat, remove from heat and shred chicken with a fork. Alternatively, you can use the meat from a rotisserie chicken to save time.  Return to stovetop and add the following: garlic, onion, chicken broth and brown rice. Cook until rice is soft and cooked through. Add celery, carrots, cabbage and green beans. Cook until veggies are semi-soft.

While soup is cooking, using a blender, blend one cup of water with the fresh jalapenos. Add the blended sauce to the soup. Cook about 10 minutes longer, adding more water if necessary until you reach desired consistency. The soup will thicken once the rice is cooked.

Before serving, remove any bones, garnish with cayenne pepper, salt and fresh squeezed lemon or lime. This soup freezes really well, and can be frozen in single one cup servings for reheating later.
Enjoy.

Amber

Chicken Jalapeno Rice Soup
My husband wrote a letter to our baby that he posted on his facebook page last week. He's a typical man, and rarely expresses himself verbally, but his heartfelt words struck a chord in me, and I wanted to share it with you since we're entering the month of giving thanks. You can read his letter below.

A Letter To Our Baby


"To my child, 

I want to take a moment to tell you about your family. You have a brother Cade. He is awesome, he has the biggest heart of any person I know, and loves harder than any brother you will ever have! He is your protector and he will take great pride in that job. You have a Mom and Dad that love you to no end. We will never forget you and look forward to the day we see you and hold you. 

A part of me says I am glad you did not have to experience this world as it can be a cruel place. That being said, I would die this very second if it meant you could experience the love that you have with this family. I would die this instance, if it meant Cade could hold you in his arms and kiss your forehead. I LOVE YOU! and will celebrate you everyday of my life. 

I question why you were taken from us. This I may never know. I do know that this emotional storm will pass, the scars will heal, and ours days will go on. 

To those reading this, I encourage you the next time you feel like you are having a bad day, stop and think about the things you do have in your life. Don't think about the things that you want, you can't lose those. However, you can lose the things you have, so be thankful and protect the things you hold close to your heart."

I think this is good advice for us all this Thanksgiving. :)


Amber




Hyperemesis & Top 10 Things Not To Say To A HG Woman

**Update 12/5/2012: Unfortunately, I lost my baby last month at the beginning of my second trimester. It is very hard for me to deal with the fact that I went through all of this with no reward in the end. I am keeping this post up, to educate the public on what women go through who suffer with Hyperemesis.**

Hello all. If you've been checking in with me on Facebook, you know where I've been for the past couple of months. If not, well, I thought I should write a post to update you all.

We are expecting baby # 2, and while for most people this begins one of the best times of their life, for me it begins the worst. During my pregnancies, I suffer from a rare condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum, this disease affects less than 2% of pregnant women.. The definition of this disease: "HG is a debilitating and potentially life-threatening pregnancy disease marked by rapid weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration due to unrelenting nausea and vomiting that prevents adequate intake of food and fluids, with adverse consequences for the newborn."

Now you may be thinking, "Oh, you mean morning sickness."

No. Hyperemesis is more than morning sickness, and cannot even be compared. Besides extreme weight loss, malnutrition, dehydration, and depression, HG can lead to renal failure and death. It can become so unbearable and life threatening, that some women opt to terminate their pregnancy just to end their misery or protect their own health. To elaborate, I will try to explain my experience.

Since we knew about my HG in advance this time around, my doctor prescribed the usual anti-nausea medication for me, hoping early treatment would curb it. It didn't. The unrelenting nausea and constant vomiting began, but since I was still keeping some fluids down, I made myself suffer through it. I did this for 4 weeks, completely bed-ridden and unable to care for my child or even myself.

Anything was a trigger. Light, sound, smells (of course), motion, air moving across my face, even my son's hugs. Do you know how awful it feels to not even be able to tolerate your child putting his arms around you, or kissing you on the cheek?

As usual, it progressed and became worse. I lost an additional 10 pounds in 2 weeks, was vomiting hourly (NOT an exaggeration) and was pretty much just a pathetic lump crying convulsively on the bathroom floor.

Finally, my Dr ordered home health care and a Zofran pump for me to manage my condition, but since it was the weekend I had to wait for my insurance to authorize it. Gotta love insurance companies. When I finally got the go-ahead, I had not kept a single drop of liquid or any food down for 3 days.

My medical supplies were delivered and the home health nurse came out to get me set up. She had me pee on a stick to test my ketones and level of dehydration. When you have no nutrition for a period of time, toxins build up in your system and cause ketosis. Apparently I was off the charts at the highest level you can be.

Go figure.

She hooked up my IV, then showed me how my pump worked and how to change my infusion site.

Yes, I have to stab myself in the abdomen every other day. Actually, my husband does it. I'm too chicken. A nurse calls me every morning to get my ketone levels, log my weight, food intake and check on me.

The Zofran pump holds a syringe of my medicine, which is attached to a catheter that is inserted into my abdomen, this delivers a continuous dose to me throughout the day. I have to alternate the infusion site every couple of days, since the medicine is really irritating to the skin and causes redness and hard lumps.

After several days on the pump things began to get a little better. The vomiting episodes reduced, so instead of 20+ times a day, I was down to 5. I could keep tiny bites of only a few foods down, spread out throughout the day, and a bit of liquid. The nausea never improved, so the doctor upped my dosage and added in a supplemental anti nausea medication.

Here's my set up:

So as you can see, I've not been post-writing-worthy, or food-making-capable for a while. But things are looking up. If you know someone who has suffered from this disease or would like to learn more about it, go to www.helpher.org. It has tons of information and great resources. Not enough is known about HG yet, so more research is being done all the time.

For a bit of comic relief, here are the Top 10 Things Not To Say To A HG Woman. If you've had HG, I know you can relate. :)


10. Being sick is a sign of a healthy pregnancy
9. Don't be such a drama queen, perhaps you should see a psychiatrist
8. Take a shower and then take a walk outside
7. You should feel better by now, it's been 3 months
6. Eat lots of small meals daily
5. Think positive, it's mind over matter
4. Try seabands
3. You should try ginger
2. Eat some crackers

and the #1 thing not to say to an HG woman is...

1. Oh, I was sick too when I was pregnant too!

If you have been guilty of saying one of these phrases to an HG woman, than you need to educate yourself about HG. Education is power and HG women need their family, friends, doctors and nurses to educate themselves about this horrific pregnancy condition. Research has proven HG is not a "mind over matter" issue it is a physiological condition of pregnancy.

So the next time you come across a woman who has Hyperemesis...please don't suggest she eat crackers. She may just punch you in the face - after she pukes all over you of course.. :)

Amber





Homemade Chocolate Chip Caramel Swirl Ice Cream Sundae's

Choc Chip Ice Cream
I don't know about you, but sometimes a smooth, ice cream sundae smothered in a warm, gooey topping is just the thing. I'm not usually an ice cream person, but it's my husband's favorite dessert. He is a simple man when it comes to the flavors he likes, but chocolate chip is at the top of his list. He's been complaining lately that he wished the store bought brands used whole chocolate chips, so I decided to whip him up a batch that fit his needs.

I couldn't stop with the chocolate chips though, I decided to swirl in a nice thick layer of homemade caramel sauce. This stuff is sooo good, I tend to eat it right of the spoon. Yum!

Of course, it doesn't hurt to add an extra drizzle of caramel over the finished product. I've never heard of too much caramel. Have you?

Homemade Chocolate Chip Caramel Swirl Ice Cream
Serves: 4  Printable Recipe

Chocolate Chip Ice Cream:
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Homemade Caramel Sauce:
(caramel recipe from The Pioneer Woman)
1 cup brown sugar
4 tbsp salted butter
1/2 cup half & half
1 tbsp vanilla extract

In a saucepan over low heat, heat the milk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cream and vanilla, stir and allow to cool.

In a saucepan over low heat, combine the brown sugar, butter and half & half. Cook for about 7 minutes until it begins to thicken. Add the vanilla and cook for another minute or two, until slightly thickened. Allow to cool.

Pour the cooled cream mixture into an electric ice cream maker and make according to manufacturers directions. When the ice cream has thickened, add the chocolate chips and stir to combine. Then add about 1/2 cup of the caramel and stir gently with a spoon to swirl. Place in a covered container and allow to set up in the freezer at least 4 hours or overnight.

Serve sundaes with extra homemade caramel sauce drizzled on top. Eat and enjoy!Choc Chip Ice Cream


Homemade French Onion Dip

French Onion Dip
I've been in a veggie eating mood today. I'm not one of those people that can eat bowls and bowls of plain vegetables though.

I'm a bit more naughty.

I like thick, creamy dips. The kind that deep down, I know ruins the whole point of eating vegetables. This dip is full of rich, caramelized onions, fresh herbs, spices, and just a hint of balsamic vinegar. If you're watching what you eat, you can easily use light sour cream or even plain yogurt.

A dollop of this creamy goodness is perfect on a nice, crunchy, baby carrot.

(Confession: Up until recently - I was quite sure that baby carrots were a unique species of carrot that actually grew in their tiny little form. Of course, my husband gladly popped my bubble and told me the truth. Go on, you can laugh at me.)


Homemade French Onion Dip 
French Onion Dip Serves: 6  Printable Recipe

1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp balsamic vingegar
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1/8 tsp white pepper
salt to taste

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle 1-2 tsp of brown sugar over the onions, reduce heat to low and continue to cook for about another 10 minutes, until onions turn deep golden and are caramelized. Add the minced onion and and balsamic vinegar. Stir gently and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a medium bowl, mix together the sour cream, mayonnaise, parsley, and pepper. When onions have cooled off, add to the sour cream mixture and stir. Use a stick blender to puree the dip to desired consistency. Add salt to taste, if desired. Refrigerate until cold or overnight. Serve with crackers, chips, veggies, or anything you wish!

Enjoy!

Amber
French Onion Dip


Chipotle Grilled Chicken Tacos with Pineapple Slaw

Chipotle Grilled Chicken Tacos

I've got a recipe to share today, one that will make your mouth get all drooly and your taste buds all tingly.

This is the kind of recipe that makes you get all excited over leftovers. Any dish that makes you happy about leftovers is a keeper in my book! The main star is a delicious smoky,chipotle marinaded chicken. Of course, it doesn't hurt when it's topped with a tropical pineapple slaw. Throw it all in a fresh corn tortilla and you've got dinner.

Suuuuuuey! Can you believe that's what my dad used to yell up the stairs at us kids when it was time to eat.  Apparently he had a pig farm in another life before I was born. Thanks Dad, it's every teenage girl's dream to be likened to a pig right before she's about to eat.

To grab this recipe head on over the Tasty Kitchen Blog, you can read the full post and get the handy-dandy printable too.
Enjoy!

Amber
Chipotle Grilled Chicken Tacos


Glazed Key Lime Snack Cake

Key Lime Snack Cake Well, my husband went back to work today. He took the end of last week off, so he could go with me to drop the kiddo off for his first day of Kindergarten.

We ran around so much and kept busy, that today is a bit of a shock for me. The house is so.....quiet. 

I keep expecting to hear stampeding footsteps running down the stairs, mysterious thumps from above, and the assuring sound of toys being clashed together.

A quiet house is just not right.

I have to admit, it was much easier to get my next recipe baked, photographed, and posted. Without having to stop every 5 minutes to snap Iron Man's head back on, or find a particular piece of Lego the size of a flea, it's amazing how much I can get done.

I decided to make a tasty after-school treat for my newly school-bound son - O.K. I admit it, the cake is for me.

This cake is so moist and light, and then drizzled in a tart lime-glaze that seeps down into the cake through poked holes. It's not too sweet and not too heavy. A perfect snack cake. 

Glazed Key Lime Snack Cake
Serves: 12   Printable Recipe

1 package (3oz) lime gelatin
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
5 eggs
1 1/3 cups cooking oil
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 lemon, juiced

For the Glaze:
1/3 cup key limes (or regular limes)
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Directions:
Soak gelatin in a little bit of cold water (a few tablespoons) for 3-5 minutes. Combine sugar, flour,salt, baking powder, baking soda, and gelatin in a mixing bowl. Add eggs, oil, orange juice, vanilla, and lemon juice. Mix until combined.

Pour batter into a greased 9" x 13" pan and bake at 350F for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Prick cake all over with a fork. Drizzle well with the lime glaze.

Key Lime Snack Cake





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