Mommy Made From Scratch

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cheese Ball

I've dreamed of creating this recipe for a long time now. It's been swirling around in my head of what direction to go with it. I finally came up with this amazingly delicious, out of the ordinary cheese ball that would be perfect to take to any party or simply to make for yourself.

Warning! Sugar rush is sure to follow. May cause smiling followed by extreme hyperactivity.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cheese Ball
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/8 cup mini chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa
mini chocolate chips
sunflower seed kernels, roasted and salted

Mix together cream cheese, peanut butter, powdered sugar, 1/8 cup chocolate chips, vanilla extract and cocoa until well combined. Chill in refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

Remove from refrigerator then split mixture in half. Form each half into a ball with your hands. Set aside.

Pour mini chocolate chips and sunflower kernels onto a plate or other flat, clean surface. Roll each ball into the mixture until well coated. You may have to push the kernels and chips into the ball a bit to get them to stay. Makes two 3 inch cheese balls.

Use a spreader to serve with graham crackers or vanilla wafers. Enjoy!

Linked to:

Everyday Mom's Meals

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What's up with me...

Some of you may have noticed my lack of posts or talk on Facebook and Twitter lately. Let me explain a little why I've been so absent.

Let me start this off by saying this isn't a pity party for me and my husband or a pulpit to preach on...this is just where I'm at and what my heart feels. I also ask that you refrain from judgement and harsh words in your comments.

Sunday, February 19th, would have been my son, Xander's 6th birthday.

Three months into our marriage, my husband and I found out that I was unexpectedly pregnant. In the fourth month of my pregnancy we found out that our son didn't have any kidneys so there was hardly any amniotic fluid surrounding him. We were told that if he survived to birth, he would die shortly after. We were given the option to abort but chose not to. We were assured that he was in no pain or discomfort in my womb so really, why wouldn't I give him a chance at life rather than choosing to end it myself. I would never have been able to live with myself if I had.

At 32 weeks in my pregnancy, I noticed some odd things going on with my body and hadn't felt Xander move for several hours. I just knew that something wasn't right so we headed to the hospital. We found out that afternoon that Xander had passed away.

Each year around his birthday is especially difficult. As the years have gone by things have gotten progressively better. But for some reason this year it just hit me like a ton of bricks. Last Tuesday morning I woke up feeling horribly depressed and it continued throughout most of the rest of the week. I couldn't figure out what was going on. I knew Xander's birthday was coming up but I wasn't really dwelling on it. Then I remembered something that I was told during a grief support group that from time to time you may feel a deep depression for no apparent reason then realize that an important date in your lost loved one's life is coming up. This is a natural reaction that can happen for years upon years after their passing. I guess it's just that lost connection that my heart is longing for.

Not a day goes by that I don't think of him. I miss him dearly but I know that I will see him again someday in heaven. I know, of course, that not all of you will agree with me on that but I know in my heart that it's true. God is real. Salvation though Christ is real. The promise of heaven is real.

My husband and I wanted to find a way to help our other children who never had a chance to meet Xander to understand that he is a real person. We wanted them to know that he's very important to our family and we'll see him again. We decided to have a birthday cake each year and sing "Happy Birthday" to him. Last year was our first year doing this as the kids were just then getting old enough to participate.

On Sunday morning I told Tatiana that after we got home from church and ate lunch, we were going to have a birthday cake for Xander. On the way back home Tatiana said, "I told my teacher about Xander's birthday and his party. He's not here anymore...but he's not far away!" I about lost it. I had to hide my face so she didn't think she did something wrong to make me cry. How profound of a statement from a 4 year old!?! She does like to contradict herself when she speaks a lot of the time but this time it actually made sense. Xander's not physically here with us but he's not far away. We'll see him again.

My husband knew I was struggling but no one else did. I had plans for a party that I cancelled so I sent out a prayer request along with the information about the party being cancelled to the few friends who were able to make it. The next morning, Friday, I woke up with that deep depression lifted. I've always been a firm believer in the power of prayer and I definitely accredit answered prayer to my feeling better.

I hope to get back on the recipe wagon here soon so I can post some goodies that I have stored up but I'm just a little behind schedule due to my difficult week last week and a busy week ahead.

I hope you can read this and feel encouraged and not alone if you are hurting. I could write a book about our experience and all that God has done through Xander's story. Maybe someday I will, but for now this is it. If you would like to learn more, I am more than willing to share through email or if I get enough people that respond wanting to hear more of our story I can add another post sometime.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for your support.

Happy 6th birthday, Baby Boy!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Parmesan Broccoli & Cauliflower with Chives

I have a hard time getting my kids to eat vegetables...any vegetables...ever. The one vegetable that both of them will usually eat is broccoli. It's funny to me because broccoli isn't the least bit sweet in flavor and it kinda reeks. In fact, after making this dish, my whole refrigerator smelled of it until all of the leftovers had been eaten. Sure, there are green onions and garlic in it but I could mostly smell the broccoli. Broccoli is one of my favorite veggies too, despite the smell. Why is it that something that tastes so yummy can smell the complete opposite? It puzzles me.

So moving on...

Since I have a hard time getting my kids to eat any other vegetable, I usually try to dress it up differently whenever I fix it. When I first made this version, I thought for sure that my kids wouldn't even try it because of all of the other stuff mixed with it. Boy was I wrong! Today at lunch I was finishing up the last bit of this when Asher put down his snack and yelled, "Brocci! Brocci!" I had to share.

I hope you try this out and enjoy it! Be sure to make extra and store it in a well-sealed container.

Parmesan Broccoli & Cauliflower with Chives
1 package (12 oz.) frozen broccoli and cauliflower mix
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
sea salt, to taste

Steam vegetables and onions in a microwave steamer for approximately 7 minutes or until tender. I used my favorite steamer from Pampered Chef pictured below. You could also steam your vegetables in a microwave-safe container with a lid slightly off or using a steamer machine or basket.

Stir in garlic powder, cheese and salt. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Linked to:


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Black & White Raspberries

I love Pinterest. There are so many fun crafts, recipes, photos, quotes, fashion...and on and on. It's really easy to spend hours on there just looking at some of the fun ideas that people have come up with all over the web.

Several weeks back I remember seeing a pin where someone had taken raspberries and inserted chocolate chips in the middle making a yummy and very easy treat. I thought I'd try it out with both semi-sweet chocolate chips and white chocolate chips. The results were so good! I personally prefer the white chocolate in the raspberries rather than the regular chips which is weird as I'm not much of a white chocolate person normally. I think it was so good because white chocolate is so sweet and raspberries tend to be tart. The two flavors really balanced each other out really well. The flavor combination was amazing!

For a fun Valentine's Day idea, put a bunch of these in a cute container and give them out to your sweetheart rather than a box of chocolates. They're healthier and look really adorable.

I didn't pin the original post myself and for the life of me can't find it anywhere so I can't send you to the original idea but to whoever came up with this idea first...I am eternally grateful!

Be sure to check me out on Pinterest!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Super Loaded Potato Wraps and my real thoughts on this year's Super Bowl

Super Bowl Sunday will soon be upon us and to be perfectly honest, I'm feeling bitter. As you all know, the Super Bowl this year will be held in Indianapolis, just a couple of hours from where I grew up and even now only a few hours in the opposite direction from where I now live.

I was born in the Hoosier state and thus became a Colts fan over the years. Thankfully we've enjoyed year after year of romping success in the regular season as well as a Super Bowl victory in 2006. This year, however, was a rampant failure. Seriously...2 and 14!?! How can a team go from 14 and 2 to 2 and 14?!  I don't get it. And sure, Peyton Manning was out the whole season but there should be enough talent on that whole team to come out with more than 2 wins.

And to make matters worse, the Patriots are once again in the Super Bowl for the billionth time. As any Colts fan can understand, there is a deep disdain for the Patriots in Indiana. They always seem to steal our thunder and now they may do it on our own turf.


In my opinion, there are three good things that can come from this Super Bowl Sunday...a Giants win, funny commercials and really great food. I came across a recipe from Kroger and adapted it to make it even more delicious. As a result, I created these Super Loaded Potato Wraps. These are great as a main dish or as an appetizer. I hope you enjoy them as much as I will enjoy a Patriots loss!

Go Colts...errr...I mean...Go Giants!

Super Loaded Potato Wraps
1- 28 oz. package potatoes o'brien
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1- 16 oz. container low fat sour cream
8 strips turkey bacon, cooked and torn to small pieces
2 green onions, chopped
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
12-15 small flour tortillas
2 Tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Cook potatoes according to package directions. Stir together potatoes, cheese, 1 cup sour cream, bacon, green onions, salt and pepper.

Spoon potato mixture into the center of each tortilla and roll up like a burrito. Lay wrap, seam side down onto a baking sheet then brush with melted butter. Allow space between each wrap so that the whole tortilla will crisp. You may need to use two separate baking sheets to fit them all.

Bake for 12-16 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow to cool for a few minutes then cut diagonally in half. Serve with the rest of the sour cream. Makes 12-15 whole tortillas. Enjoy!

Linked to Everyday Mom's Meals: Church Supper #25, Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms: Melt In Your Mouth Mondays

Thursday, February 2, 2012

ecoStore Product Review

Several weeks back, I was contacted by Maggie with ecoStore USA to see if I was interested in trying out some of their products to review. I checked out their USA website and facebook page and decided that their products were worth a try. After all, I've been trying to find ways to use more natural things in our household, be it in the food that we eat or the products that we clean with. EcoStore seemed a natural fit...pun intended. 

Now I know that this may seem to be a stretch from my usual posts, as it is not directly food related. But when ecoStore asked what two products I wanted to try, the first thing that popped out to me was their Pure Oxygen Whitener because my husband and I had just been talking about trying something like that the night before I was contacted. It seemed like destiny.

So for my first selection I chose the whitener. The next thing I chose was their Dishwash Liquid. Now that ties it all in quite nicely to the topic of food, doesn't it? Ultimately it wasn't my decision on what they sent me so I ended up being graciously given the whitener and the Laundry Liquid, which makes sense since they could be used together and are both used for laundry. 

Now that I've got you all up to speed on why we're veering off of the food train, let me tell you about my experience using the two products sent to me. 

I tried the whitener with a load of whites by just putting it in with my laundry after using the recommendation of dissolving in water first, then adding to the machine. I honestly didn't see a whole lot of difference in how white the overall load was so I thought I'd try a small load of whites using the whitener in a different way listed on the label. 

For my next load I let the clothing sit overnight while soaking in the whitener-water mixture. My daughter had just had a bloody nose the night before so her pillow case was a perfect test subject for this. Check out what happened:



I was ecstatic! Blood is such a hard thing to get out of laundry so I was super excited that this did the trick and in only one shot. 

Of course I used the laundry detergent they sent me in both loads as well. The detergent performed just as well as my regular brand, all, which I've been more than happy with over the years. This detergent has a fresh, almost minty smell to it which seemed quite nice and gave me the impression of cleanliness immediately.

Here are some of the reasons I would consider a switch to ecoStore beyond what I've shown you above:

- no nasty chemicals
- no toxic petrochemicals
- no phosphates
- no nitrates
- no enzymes
- no chlorine
- no dyes or synthetic perfumes
- no optical whiteners
- no animal testing
- earth friendly

If you would like to learn more about ecoStore, check out their USA website here. They carry a whole line of products including household cleaners, baby, bath & body, haircare and products for your pet. 

Also, check out their facebook page here, and let them know I sent you.

Thanks so much ecoStore!

*Disclaimer - I was given these products to try by ecoStore USA. I am not being compensated in any way for my promotion of their products. The above statements are my honest opinion of the products given to me.*

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Black Pepper Parmesan Microwave Popcorn

In my quest for less preservatives and more actual food in our diets, I have been pleased to learn that you can make your own microwave popcorn with only a few supplies: a brown paper bag, tape and popcorn.

You can make microwave popcorn with only the three supplies listed above or add more to it for more flavor. I have seen many different varieties of this same process floating around the internet but none quite like this.

One of my favorite parts of this recipe came unexpectedly when I opened the bag to find little "crunchies" inside formed from the parmesan cheese. Each crunchie looks kind of like the skin from fried chicken but packs a punch of flavor from the black pepper and salt. But beware: If you added a lot of salt the crunchies may be extremely salty.

Hope you enjoy this inexpensive, healthier way to make popcorn!

Black Pepper Parmesan Microwave Popcorn
1/4 cup popcorn
2 tsp olive oil
salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Pour popcorn into a small bowl. Add oil, salt, pepper and cheese. Mix with a spoon until kernels are coated with oil mixture. Spoon popcorn into a brown paper lunch bag. Fold top over about an inch twice then secure with two pieces of tape.

Place bag in microwave on it's side.

Microwave for 2-3 minutes or until popping slows down to about one pop every 4-5 seconds.

Open and enjoy!

 Check out all the yummy crunchies! Mmmm!

For a variation on this recipe, cook the popcorn as directed above but leave out the parmesan cheese. After popping, drizzle with 1-2 Tbsp melted butter then sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top. Shake the bag to coat evenly. This will keep out the crunchies and will give a more natural popcorn taste. Pour into a bowl to enjoy!

Linked to: Recipes For My Boys - Thursdays Treasures