Cars and Ribbons

Friday, April 27, 2012

PW's Corn and Cheese Chowder Shortcuts

On my Cars and Ribbons Facebook page, I recently posted a link to Pioneer Woman's Corn and Cheese Chowder.  Here are a couple shortcuts to make this delicious dish that will lessen the time in the kitchen and leave more time to enjoy it!

The original recipe calls for 5 ears of corn with the kernels cut off and 3 whole bell peppers.  So, I bought 3 cans of corn with red and green bell peppers.  So much easier that cutting off all those kernels!

Since I love the flavor of bell peppers, I wanted to add more than just what was in the cans.  In the freezer section of the grocery store, you can easily find a bag of 3 pepper and onion blend.

I poured half the bag in a bowl and stuck it in the microwave for about 20 seconds.  Then, I poured the peppers and onions in my handy dandy food chopper and "chopped" them.

The recipe also calls for 3 pieces of bacon, cut into pieces.  I headed to the condiment aisle at the store and picked up a bag of real bacon bits.  No extra cutting needed.

I followed the directions as written on the recipe, but used these shortcuts.  It saves time in the kitchen, but still tastes sooooo good!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bell's Meatballs

There was an event at church recently when I first tasted these meatballs.  They were soooo tasty and I heard lots of people talking about how great they were.  Thankfully, our church events are catered by a wonderful couple in our congregation, Dan and Angela Bell.  I immediately asked for the recipe and she said I could share it with you.  I made a few changes from the original recipe so this is my version.  I'll also post the original version at the end.

Mix together 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 cup of water, a 12 oz. jar of chili sauce, and 1 can of whole berry cranberry.

Pour into a slow cooker.

Open a bag of frozen meatballs and mix it into the sauce.

Cook on high 4-5 hours.

I served the meatballs over steamed rice and parmesan green beans.

Bell's Meatballs (original recipe)

1 pkg of homestyle meatballs
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. water
1 - 12 oz. bottle Heinz chili sauce
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
1/2 can sauerkraut (it calls for a whole can, but I'm thinking about cutting back on it some)

Cook the meatballs about 15-20 minutes to brown up some at package directions.
Simmer the next 5 items on a lot heat about 20 minutes.
Pour over meatballs and cook at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
Cars and Ribbons variation:  Mix everything (I didn't use sauerkraut) but the meatballs and pour into a slow cooker.  Add in the meatballs.  Cook on high for 4 hours.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hot Chocolate Cookies

At our recent Children's Fine Arts event, Kaitlyn entered the Baking Category, just like Preston. My mom had told us about a recipe for Hot Chocolate Cookies from Baked Bree and let us sample them when we saw her during Spring Break. It was something different and easy and was the perfect creation for Fine Arts.
Kaitlyn got to work gathering the ingredients and even used a hand mixer.

The ingredients formed a very thick dough. Doesn't it look so scrumptious already?

I lined a cookie sheet with parchment paper and Kaitlyn formed cookie dough balls.

They turned out so well. I know you're drooling just by looking at this picture!

I guess the judges loved them too because this was all that was left. Kaitlyn received a Superior rating and a medal. Another job well done!

Hot Chocolate Cookies

2 sticks of butter, room temp

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

3 1/4 cups flour

4 pkg. hot chocolate mix

1 tsp. salt

1 1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 cup mini chocolate chips

1 cup mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream both sugars and butter until light and fluffy. In another bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, except chocolate chips and marshmallows. Mix eggs and vanilla into the sugar/butter batter. Slowly add in dry ingredients. Do this in small amounts because this is when the batter starts to get very thick. Stir in chocolate chips and marshmallows. Form balls to desired size. Bake 9-11 minutes. Let cool.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Peppermint Cookies

For our recent Children's Fine Arts event, Preston wanted to bake. After looking through several of our cookbooks, he settled on Candy Cane Twists from Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade Desserts cookbook. You can read about my interview with Sandra Lee here.

So, the night before the event, we gathered the supplies and Preston got busy pouring, stirring, and rolling. He was very thorough and followed instructions very well.

Once the cookie dough is at room temperature, you have to separate it into two balls. Add red food coloring to one ball and peppermint extract to the other ball. The recipe originally calls for making the dough into sticks so you can twist them to look like candy canes. We decided to do an easier, less time-consuming route and just made a bunch of balls.

Then. we rolled a red ball and a white ball together and the dough had a really neat, marble effect.

This is what the cookies looked like after they're baked. They received a superior rating and Preston was soooo proud of himself! They are soft, moist, and very delicious. If a 5 yr old can make these cookies with very little help, it should be super easy for anybody to do.

Peppermint Cookies
1 pkg. (18 oz) refrigerated sugar cookie dough, room temperature

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. peppermint extract

Red food coloring

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut roll of cookie dough in half. Place halves in separate mixing bowls. In one bowl, mix 1/4 cup of flour and peppermint extract into cookie dough. In the second bowl, mix remaining 1/4 cup of flour and enough food coloring to make dough red. Mix well. (Warning: if mixing with hands, which is sometimes easier to do, your hands will smell minty and look red. It will remind your family of Christmastime.)

Divide white and red dough into balls. You can make them as big or as small as desired. Then, roll a red and a white ball together, making sure they don't separate. Place on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake 10-12 minutes.

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Sumo's Sweet Stuff

Friday, April 6, 2012

On The Red Carpet

Being involved in the community and meeting new people can always lead you into new adventures. I have a friend named Lindsey that has a company called Fast Easy Bread. Our children attend the same school and I've gotten to know her through different school events. I think Lindsey is fabulous! She knows about this blog and thought I would be interested in attending a Food Network event. Would I?!?! Of course, I'd be interested!

I invited my brother to come with me and we were going to be seeing the premier of a Food Network documentary called Hunger Hits Home, about the childhood hunger crisis in America. Click here to watch a clip.

This wonderful backdrop was set up outside the Magnolia Theater in Dallas. There was a red carpet set out too. Hmmm...I wonder why that was there?

Why look! It's Sandra Lee from Semi-Homemade!!!

Sandra Lee is involved with the charity Share Our Strength, a national non-profit that is ending childhood hunger in America. This charity is involved with the documentary and Sandra Lee is the spokesperson. I was told I could interview her for this blog!!!! I was beyond ecstatic.

She walked the red carpet and all the "press" stood behind the rope to interview her. My brother was the videographer/photographer as I asked questions. I had 2 pages worth of fun and serious questions, but unfortunately, I was only able to ask her 2 questions. I can't get my video to upload yet (grrrr!), but here is a modified transcript:

ME: You have a very succesful show, Semi-Homemade, on Food Network. What do you think has made it so successful?

SL: I think it's successful because it's different and unique from everybody else's show. It gives a lot of information in a very short period of time. The cocktail time is very popular, the tablescapes are popular. There's always a reason to enjoy life. We're all here to focus on Food Network's message and documentary that's coming out on April 14, which is called Hunger Hits Home. It addresses the hunger issue that we have in the United States right now.

ME: I read your memoir and you had a difficult childhood growing up. Do you think that is why you are so involved with charities like this?

SL: Absolutely! In fact, when I found out about Share Our Strength, I was on the board of UNICEF, the Los Angeles chapter, which I founded. When I realized what was going on right here domestically and Food Network got involved with Share Our Strength and Parade Magazine, which I'm a contributor, got involved with Share Our Strength, and the Great American Bake Sale, they also let me come on board and be their spokesperson.

It was pretty cool to interview her, but I was nervous. I had to alter my questions at the last minute, but I was proud that I didn't ever look at my notes. She was dressed very casually and thoroughly answered everyone's questions.

We then headed inside The Magnolia for a cocktail reception while we waited for the documentary to start. Once inside the theater, I got to sit in a special section reserved for "press". It was kind of a surreal moment. Before the screening, Chuck Scoffield, from Share Our Strength, and Sandra Lee spoke about why they are so passionate about this worthy cause.

It was a very interesting documentary, narrated by Jeff Bridges, about 3 families in America, and their struggle to provide adequate food for their children. As much as some of us may dislike Ramen noodles, that very food is helping to prevent children from starving. Check out the documentary airing April 14 on Food Network. Then, think of what you can do to wipeout hunger in America by 2015.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Wreath

This was the most time consuming project ever! I'm noticing a pattern on the projects I pick out. I originally saw a heart shaped wreath made of red felt circles on It was very pretty so I thought I would try my own variation and make one for Spring. It took forever!!!!

I picked out 5 different "Spring" colors in felt sheets and bought several sheets of each (4/$1 at Hobby Lobby). Then, I cut out about a million 3" circles from the sheets. Fold the circles in half and then fold again. Get a straight pin and poke it through the corner of the circle. Pin it to a foam wreath. Repeat over and over and over...

Here's a closer look. I just fluffed out the circles a little to give it a "full" effect. I pinned a ribbon to the back to hang it to my door. It's a very simple project but takes time. I like how it turned out.