Thursday, September 24, 2009

Copycating and tweaking a classic

What do you do when you run out of Hershey's Chocolate Syrup for you banana split? Make your own.

What do you do with those few ladyfingers you want to use up before they get stale? Make a Napoleon!

First things first. Let's make the Hershey's syrup...

Copycat Hershey's Chocolate Syrup


1/2 C. Cocoa (Hershey's obviously)
1 C. Sugar
1 C. water
1 tsp. Vanilla
dash of salt

Preparation Instructions:
Combine cocoa, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Add water, and mix until smooth. Bring this mixture to a boil. Allow it to boil for one minute, be careful this does not over boil. Remove from heat, when this cools add the vanilla.

Banana Split Napoleon

Drizzle Copycat sauce on three ladyfingers.

Layer half a banana and a small slab of vanilla ice cream.

Add another lady finger layer and drizzle with cherry juice

Add a slab of chocolate ice cream, another ladyfinger portion. Topped with cherries, whipped cream and drizzle with more chocolate all over.

K-man was floored when I brought him his triple decker banana split napoleon. The first picture of this post is the double decker option with one less ladyfinger layer and ice cream slab. The sauce is really rich! I used the dark version of hershey's and I am glad I only drizzled rather drowning my napoleon in it.

Make this copycat Hershey's for your kids...they will LOVE you for it!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cutting a corner....

Hey there guys! I took a little time to get settled back into my teaching schedule. Hope you didn't miss me too much. LOL. Although, catching up on my 'reader' has been difficult. You guys have been cooking up a storm. Sheesh!

What I've made for you to try at home is:

4 Cheese No Boil Manicotti

1 box manicotti
16 oz ricotta
2 cups mozzarella
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup cheddar
2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste
French's onion rings for garnish
fresh chopped parsley

Grease your 9X13 pan. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl. Put your ricotta, spinach, 1 cup mozzarella, 1/2 cup Parmesan and mix well.
Pour enough sauce to cover the bottom of your 9X13 pan. Now is the time to stuff your manicotti. Yes, you are NOT boiling them. A little secret about pasta people don't tell you....sometimes you don't need to boil them. You are going to use either a spoon or your fingers to stuff the cheese in the tubes. If you want a cleaner and easier method, use a pastry bag with no tip or a heavy duty ziploc bag with the corner snipped. You may want to reinforce that corner with some tape for the cheese mixture is thick!

Squeeze the cheese in the tubes and lay them in your 'sauced' pan. One box of pasta will fit fine. Cover all the manicotti with the remainder of the sauce and bake covered with foil for 1 hour.

When time is up. Toss all the remaining cheese on top (and the onion rings if you desire). Turn off oven and let cheese melt.

Lift out your manicotti and garnish with chopped parsley.

Mmmmmm, simply delicious. I should have made this on earlier for a Meatless Monday! One day a week being meatless is all they suggest....doesn't matter the day! I can't wait for the leftovers when the flavors will have married more!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Get them while they're warm!

YAY! I wasted no time too.

I came home from work, saw my Naturally Nora giveaway package delivery at the door. Came inside, put my purse and totebag down, went to the kitchen to open my box and turned on the oven!

I am fan of Naturally Nora on Facebook and I entered the giveaway for her new product, brownie mix. I was so happy to have won. I absolutely love her cake mixes and frosting.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Naturally Nora her products are all natural ingredients. You know, flour, sugar , baking long scientific words that you can't pronounce or know what they are!

So I baked the Fudgy Brownies today. All you need to prepare them is:

1/2 cup water
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs

She has guidelines for the 13X9 pan, 9X9 pan and 8X8 pan. Otherwise known as thick, thicker and thickest. LOL She has different heating times for the different pans as well as different temperature and times for using a metal versus glass or foil pan.

I used the 13X9 pan and they turned out pretty thick!

I like to put 'stuff' on top of my brownies.....

You are seeing half pecans and half mini peanut butter cups (found at Trader's Joes)

Here are the pecan brownies....

And the peanut butter cup ones...

K-man was very happy when he saw I was baking brownies....I asked him to describe the brownie for me. He said that they looked 'cakey' yet when he bite into was like butter. They melted in his mouth. I asked which one he liked better the pecans or peanut butter and he said "BOTH!" I rolled my eyes for that didn't help me.

My favorite was the pecan. For the toastiness of the nuts and the crunch definitely added something more.

Naturally Nora can be found at Whole Foods and online on Amazon (right now, the brownies aren't available but they will email you when they arrive).


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Karma and Kookies...

Karma, what goes around comes around. The nice/bad you do will come back to you? Hmmmm. Not sure if that always works that way....

Like many of you I have neighbors on either side of me. We all get along just fine. We hang out and do stuff with my neighbor on the right but not the other really with the ones on our left (we say 'hi,' have chats every so often but we don't socialize with the 'lefty' neighbors like we do our 'righty' neighbor).

Well my garden was booming so much that when my green beans took off they grew right from the pole I provided and onto the fence. So much so that the beans seem to be growing more in my 'righty's' neighbor's yard than mine. We joked and said that she should charge us rent, etc. We've been provided our righty neighbor with lots of veggies from our garden (she's more into flowers that veggies). When the beans were taking off...I told her that no way I was going to go into her yard and pick the beans for us to eat. Since she is putting up with our 'growth' on her side....HAVE AT IT. Enjoy the beans. See, I've been sharing my summer bounty.....

Yesterday K-man were eating breakfast on the deck and noticed over our stockade fence that shields us from our 'lefty' neighbors multitude of toys (they run a child care in their house) that 4 cucumbers were growing over it. They'd been there for days apparently due to their size. "Wow" I said to K-man...."look at that Karma, we've been providing veggies to our 'righty' neighbor that now our 'lefty' is doing the same for nice"

Not even 2 hours later.....I was talking to our 'righty' neighbor about 'her' beans and how Karma was working that our 'lefty' neighbor is doing the ......GASP! I looked at the fence and they were GONE! They reached over (their heads - because the fence is tall) and snatched them back. Weird. They snatch the veggies that may grow....but their ivy and other viney weeds they let grow all over our fence though. Go figure!

So Karma, doesn't always work, like you think!

Since I was so sad about my cucumber loss....I had to make some cookies to cheer me up....LOL (not really, I never really need an excuse to make cookies!) I decided it was TIME for another edition of CAKE MIX COOKIES....

I went to my posting archive and I can't believe I've made 9 different cookies with cake mix....
  1. Strawberry Flavored Cake Mix into Chocolate Covered Strawberry cookie
  2. Brownie mix into a Triple Chocolate XXX cookie
  3. Chocolate Cake Mix into Mexican Chocolate Crackle Cookies
  4. Lemon flavored cake mix into Low fat Lemon Blueberry
  5. Coconut Cake Mix into Almond Joy Cookies
  6. White cake mix with pistachio pudding into Blarney Stone Cookies
  7. Cookie Cookie cake mix into Oreo Cake Mix Cookies
  8. Orange Cake mix into Orange Cookies
  9. Yellow cake mix into Crazy Chip and Dip Cookies
  10. Butter Pecan cake mix into....
Backward German Chocolate Cake Cookies
(named by K-man after he tasted one before I told him what was in it)

Normally a German Chocolate Cake is where the cake is chocolate and the frosting on top is coconut and pecan. But these little backward beauties are coconut pecan cookies with a chocolate top!

1 box Butter Pecan Cake Mix
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut, toasted
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
Naturally Nora's Cheerful Chocolate Frosting (or whatever chocolate frosting you have on hand)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the first five ingredients together.

Shape dough into 1" balls and place onto silpat/parchment papered cookie sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until center is JUST SET. Trust me, if you cook too much they will be hard and crunchy. 8-10 minutes makes for a soft and chewy cookie so be sure your heat is accurate on your oven. Mine is off since I have a pizza stone in oven is about 25 degrees hotter than the dial says.

Remove from pans after a minute or so and cool on wire racks.

Top with prepared chocolate frosting.

Enjoy the yumminess!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I need something easy...

Stick a fork in me, I'm done. How can a 4 day work week seem sooooooo long? Cuz it was the first week back to school. By Friday, I was wiped. It's a combination of two things:

Your body trying to adjust to working again after being off for two months.
Millions of things coming at you like popcorn machine.

I am very organized and I DO NOT like things sprung at me last minute that I am required to do where someone ELSE dropped the ball. Grrrrrrrr. Someone handed me an team activity we were supposed to do for the next two periods.

JennyMac - "When are they passing out the material for the team bonding activity?"
Other teacher in charge of relaying team stuff to me- You were supposed to get them from ____.
JM- I read the team leader's email that the stuff was coming, all week I heard/saw nothing, now you tell me I had to pick stuff up- 45 minutes before we are to do it?
OT- Didn't you get the email?
JM - "Um, no."
OT - I assumed you were on the list to receive these emails.
JM - Don't assume, its the beginning the of school year.
OT - I guess as your 'team buddy' I should have checked...
JM - (walking away) "I have a class waiting on me..."

45 minutes later, kids are clamoring around in room wondering...."what are we doing"..."can I open my new locker"...."when are what starting"....teacher comes running into my room...."I emailed you the instructions, did you get my email?"

JM -(I am thinking WTF!) What? I was TEACHING!!! OMG.

By the way, did I mention that I have had NO AIR CONDITIONING since last spring? Didn't get fixed over the summer. I got a fan to help the circulate the hot air that the kids bring in more of...When the fan is on high....I can't hear the kids very well and I am saying 'what?' every 5 minutes. Teachers come to my door and ask me questions...I can't hear from the fan 'what?'....I am speaking to the kids they can't hear either....I have to speak throat is getting sorer and hoarser by Friday......

First week, each day my FACS classes change. First day...I lost 17 kids in an 8th grade class, I was down to 7. Reason, some PE class had 105 kids....they needed to fix that. (and we didn't notice that during inservice week, why?) Second day, few kids new....few kids left. Next day one kid added, other classes stayed the same. Everyday a change of some sort. So you can see why it's so frustrating to not be able to start my curriculum. Then I have kids who missed the day of my class expectations....sigh.

See why I didn't post this week? I was so exhausted each day, when I came home it was all I could do to check my personal email. I barely had time to check my school email while @ work. Calgon take me away!

So this week I needed easy. I did make something easy. It was delicious. But it was only until I got some extra shut-eye on Saturday that I had the energy to post it for you. LOL.

Easy Pork Mole
4 servings

1lb pork tenderloin, cut into bite size pieces (this is about one of the two 'loins' in a package)
1 onion chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup Italian dressing
1 square semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
2 tsp instant coffee
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 can (15 0z) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups hot cooked rice
2 green onions, chopped for garnish

Cook meat and onions in dressing in large pot on medium-high heat 10 minutes or until meat is browned and onions are crisp-tender; stirring occasionally.

Add next 4 ingredients, stir until meat is evenly coated.

Stir in tomatoes, simmer on low heat 15 minutes or until meat is done. Top with green onions. Serve over rice

Pictured here is NOT cooked rice but cooked Orzo pasta....just as yummy. This was also just as yummy the next day as school lunch leftovers for the flavors blended even more! Those pork tenderloins just melt in your mouth! The next time I see them buy one, get one free at the store I am stocking up!!!

Seriously make this, it's easy and very flavorful! BTW, thanks for listening to my rant....It will be better next week. I bounce back fast! LOL


Monday, September 7, 2009

Free Grocery Money is waiting for you!

Time is ticking for a free $10 Giant/Stop & Shop gift card.....Everyone out enjoying their holiday weekend that you missed my giveaway offer? Since I have to contact the kind people at MyBlogSpark with your address...we need time to send it to you before the store Back to School offers run out on September 10. I guess the first person to comment get this prize!

Here's the original link of my first posting of this offer.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Same dish, different country

I found the recipe to these Asian meatballs and kept it immediately. YUM....but other than serving them for a appetizer what could I do to make them dinner?

Of course I tweaked! Keeping with the Asian theme, I put them on soba noodles, created a simple sauce....and TADA

Asian Spaghetti and Meatballs (Asian Meatballs with Soba Noodles)
adapted from Lisa of Cutting Edge of Ordinary who got it from Life's Ambrosia

Cook's Notes: Fry these meatballs if you want a crispy golden brown outside with a tender flavorful inside. If you would prefer to bake them, I would recommend drizzling them with a little olive oil before cooking them in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 to 35 minutes or until cooked through.

1 ½ pounds ground pork
½ cup finely minced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon dried cilantro or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds
1 egg, beaten
2 serrano peppers, minced
½ cup plain dry breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon fish sauce
¼ cup of oil (if frying)
1 package soba noodles (usually found in the Asian section of your grocery)
1 cup chicken broth
3 Tbsp. corn starch
veggie of choice (I used fresh green beans as seen in pictures)

Soy Garlic Dipping Sauce

3 tablespoons soy sauce
1-Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
Short drizzle sesame oil
Red pepper flakes to taste
1 Tbsp. sugar

Preheat the oven to warm setting. In a bowl combine all the ingredients except the oil. Mix well. Roll into 20 meatballs.

If frying: Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Fry meatballs in batches until they are golden brown on all sides and cooked through. About 8 to 10 minutes total. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Transfer cooked meatballs to the oven to keep them warm while you finish cooking the remaining meatballs. Keep the pan with oil and brown stuff stuck for next direction.

Prepare your soy dipping sauce in a custard cup and set aside.

Prepare the soba noodle according to the directions. While the noodle are cooking I added the green beans to cook with them. Drain into colander when your noodles/beans are cooked.

Heat up pan that you used for the meatballs. Add your cornstarch, stir around and pour in chicken broth. Use a wire whisk to mix up the chicken broth, cornstarch and to incorporate/dissolve those tasty brown bits left from the meatballs. Heat until thickens. Dilute sauce with more chicken broth if desired. Add back noodles/beans to coat with sauce. Don't be alarmed if sauce starts to disappear into noodles. That's okay...they are soaking up FLAVOR!

Taking your tongs...put generous pile of noodles/bean onto plate. Swirl tongs so the noodles look pretty. Top with your Asian meatballs, put cup of dipping sauce on the side and serve some oranges on the side. PERFECTION!

K-man and I actually started drizzling the soy dipping sauce all over the meatballs, noodles and beans for the flavor of it all was fantastic! Thanks Des and Lisa! What a hit!


Friday, September 4, 2009

Back to School Cost Solution= Gift Card Giveaway!

If you are busy running around getting your kids back to school clothes and shopping for the items on their school's supply list, I feel your pain. For I am one of those who is just running around the SCHOOL! I went earlier for school supplies for my classroom for I knew you PARENT-PEOPLE would be crowding the stores and leave nothing for us teachers....LOL ANYWAY.....

I got a little giveaway for you to help with your back to school costs this week thanks to BlogSpark. I know you are trying to dress little Sam and Sally for school and give them what they need in class but have you forgotten about their LUNCHES?

General Mills and Giant are teaming up to give families a great way to stock up and save, as they gear up for back to school. Here’s why shoppers should shop at Giant's big Back to School Event.

  1. Great sale pricing on the participating General Mills brands:
    Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Reeses Puffs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cookie Crisp Sprinkles, Cookie Crisp, Fruit Snacks, Old El Paso Dinner Kits, Pillsbury Strudel, Pillsbury Scrambles, Green Giant Boxed Vegetables, Yoplait Yo-Plus Multi-Pack, Fiber One Yogurt Multi-Pack, Pillsbury Refrigerated Cookies, Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, Pillsbury Sweet Rolls and Yoplait Delights

  2. Additional savings for you or your school, depending on which Giant location you shop
    If your Giant store sells gas
  • Buy four (4) participating General Mills items and you’ll automatically earn 100 points on your Giant card

  • For every 100 points earned, you'll save 10¢ per gallon of gas (Please note: Total discount cannot exceed price per gallon)

  • Just swipe your Giant Card at the pump to redeem your Gas Rewards

    If your Giant store doesn’t sell gas
  • For those Giant locations without gas stations, don’t worry – you’re not left out of the savings – if you buy five (5) participating General Mills products, you will receive 20 Bonus Box Tops for your school
This Back-to-School Saving Event is taking place at Giant stores September 4-10.

OK-What do you need to do for this free $10 Giant Gift Card?

Leave a comment with your kids favorite lunch you send with them to school. Since I am behind and the event starts today....I will announce the winner on Sunday @ 6pm. So I can get your info to MyBlogSpark to send your gift card first thing MONDAY!

Enjoy your three day weekend and best of luck with your entries for the Back to School Giveaway!


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lunching again...

When you are looking for something for lunch and spot those piles of tomatoes in the kitchen; does your mantra become "I better make something with tomatoes"?

It seemed I waited so long for the summer tomatoes to come back. My eyes rolled back into my head at the first bite of the season. Now that I have them all over. Some days I get like a pouty kid...."I am tired of tomatoes, I ate some yesterday" (don't forget the foot stamp on floor)

You get racked with guilt at times with...'you know, they will be gone before you know it....enjoy them while you can....don't let them go bad...they are good for you....

Are you relating to what I am going through?

So, have you tried these yet?


These are also made by Pepperidge Farms instead of 'thins' they call them 'flats' I like them for they are just enough bread for me. I want the filling of the sandwich not to be all full of bread.

This is how 'thin/flat' they are compared to my granite counter.

Thickness of Arnold's 'Thins'

Available in whole wheat, rye, white and here is the multi-grain version:

Arnold's Sandwich Thins

I am impressed to actually see GRAINS! Opened up, they get thinner:

Halves of Sandwich Thins

Optical Illusion Alert: The top one looks thicker, but it's really more curved inward (like a mushroom cap).

Have you seen this new cheese product by Borden yet?

New Borden Cheese

They also make a Pepper Jack cheese slice as well. Sorry, I threw the wrapper away a few days ago.

So I made something simple using those 'guilt-trippin' tomatoes...

Just a snack

Open Faced Tomato Sandwich

Arnold Sandwich Thins
Sliced Tomatoes, seasoned with salt and pepper
Sliced Cheese of choice.

Toast the thins before preparation. Since I was broiling these in the oven, I just toasted both side under the broiler while I prepped the tomatoes and cheese. Toasting prior is essential, for the juice of the tomatoes will totally 'soggify' such a thin slice bread. Butter if you'd like, I passed.

Lay on your seasoned tomato slices and a slice of cheese. Broil until melted.

Cook's opinion: I love the Arnold's Sandwich 'thins.' I use them for burgers, sandwiches, mini pizzas. Toasting them really makes them strong. I like the multi and rye best.

As for the cheese, I think the picture speaks for itself. Doesn't really melt, does it? Kinda gummy. For a cheese with fat, I think the fat free versions of sliced cheese aren't as gummy. Of course, real cheese albeit cheddar, pepper jack ALWAYS tastes better with these open faced sammies.

But I just wanted to 'throw out my idea' of tomato use, review some products for you.

Bottom line: Buy the bread, bag the cheese!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Little Debbie isn't going to like this...

Hardened Copycat Treats

Can you name one of those Little Debbie Snacks that you get once in a blue moon when your sweet tooth goes bonkers? I know that I am certainly capable of making a sweet treat with real ingredients anytime...but sometimes they call to you...

"JennyMac needs Nutty Bars!"

Peanut Butter and Chocolate rocks. I was thinking about snacking on some chocolate wafers today and all of a sudden it hit me. I just made K-man some copycat Chunky bars...I can copycat Nutty Bars too!

Here's the deal:

Copycat Nutty Bars
from JennyMac's Lipsmack

Package of Chocolate Wafers
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 stick of butter
1 pound of chocolate
2 Tbsp butter.
1/4 cup chopped nuts

1. Count out your wafers so you have sets of two. Eat any broken or if an odd number is in package.

2. Chop your nuts.

3. Melt your peanut butter and butter in the microwave about 40-60 sec. Mix pb and butter well. Add your powdered sugar and mix until it's smooth soft ball.

4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

5. Line up your halves of wafers and just glop away your peanut butter. This was just my start, I had added much more. Top them and press lightly so the sides ooze out peanut butter. When you reach about 1/4 inch thickness take you fingers and just rub the peanut butter off, pressing inside a bit if needed to make side solid.

6. Line up all your sandwiches to be ready while you melt your chocolate with 2 Tbsp butter in the microwave. Remember to check after one minute....chocolate does not melt into a puddle as some think it may.

(sorry I don't have pix of the next steps for melted chocolate and cameras don't mix. I was fearful of dropping it into the bowl. LOL)

7. When chocolate is ready place bar into chocolate and move it around with a fork to coat. Lift bar out with fork and tap fork on bowl edge for the excess chocolate to run off the bar. You want to see a bit of the 'lattice' design on the bars.

8. Place bars on parchment and top with chopped nuts. Place in fridge to set. Approx 30 minutes.

Copycat Nutty Bar

Cook's Note: My package of wafers (from an Amish store) had only 18 per package so I had alot of peanut butter filling and chocolate left. Depending on how many wafers you have, you should have ample PB and Choc. I stored mine in the freezer for another day. Look:

Line a short glass with a ziploc

Scrape in your extra melted chocolate.

Pull off bag from glass.

Lay on counter and press out air. Lay on flat surface in freezer. Will break/cut easier when a thin slab, rather a huge hunk of chocolate.

Call the kids to lick the bowl. YOU get the scraper to lick.

You've been patiently waiting for them to chill....Drum Roll please....

Copycat Nutty Bar inside1

Gawd, I am drooling over my own picture. Excuse me while I go eat one of these treasures! Make easy. Your kids will love you forever and they are so totally better than Little Debbie. Sorry Debbie....I won't be caving in to you anymore. I CAN MAKE MY OWN!