Spring… Maybe…?

by FrenchSelfCatering.com

I love winter, and I enjoy the cold… but when it gets to about mid-March, and the temperature fluctuates from 30 degrees to 60 degrees and back again all in the span of three days, even I get sick of it and am ready for spring to get here!

But since I can’t control the weather, how about some good news to brighten your day? (Or, at least, it brightened my day :). I was accepted last Wednesday to the school of chemistry at the University of Illinois, and I’m so exited!! I have half a semester left at my community college and then a full summer break before I start at the U of I. (Or at least as full of a summer break as it can be, while working and taking any babysitting opportunity that comes up ;)

Now that I’ve been accepted, the real paperwork begins, as I have financial aid forms to¬† fill out, scholarships to sign up for, and loans to apply for ( :( for that last one).

While I’m at it, there are 7-plus dorms that I can choose from, classes that I need to decide on, things that I need to buy for my dorm room, churches that I need to look up if I want to visit them, and, wait, was that homework for physics due this week or next week?? (U of I has a lot more dorms that just seven, but dorms like the six pack have several dorms that a essentially the same.)

On the upside, since my sister went there, I already know my way around the campus and campus town fairly well and shouldn’t get too lost once I get there.

Creamy Fudge

Despite all the paperwork that is keeping me inside, I have made it back up to a 4.5 mile run, and I am hoping to get all the way to 9 miles this year (not too far, but a decent distance, hahaha). I don’t expect everyone to run, but please get out and enjoy God’s creation with a daily walk or bike ride. Don’t let the rain stop you! Need a bribe to get you motivated? Here’s an easy creamy fudge recipe that won’t undo all the work you just did to burning calories.

Chicken Wrap

I’m sure this is not much of a new or ground-breaking rendition of an old recipe, but it is SOOO good!

What I put in

(This can be fixed to your own taste. It is very flexible.)

oooey-gooey gooodness :)

  • 1/2 cup chicken, cooked (chopped in long strips is how I like it)
  • good pinch of bacon bits
  • 2 T ranch salad dressing
  • handful of shredded cheese
  • (or 2 T of nacho cheese w/ 1 T of ranch makes it ooey-gooey good :)
  • Mixed veggies chopped into long strips¬† (I like sweet onions and bell peppers, but I have tried celery, bean sprouts, carrots, and lettuce and liked them all, though the celery is a little stringy.)
  • one tortilla (I like Santa Fe Tortilla’s Homestyle Whole Grain Tortillas because they are not as stiff as normal tortillas. If I have one trick for the wrap, this tortilla is it!)
  • Hot sauce may also be good on this wrap ;)

(The picture has bean sprouts, carrots, and onions, and I used the nacho cheese.)

What I do

Put the chicken, bacon, ranch, cheese, and (if you don’t like a strong onion taste) the onion in a microwave-safe bowl/plate, and heat them for 35-45 seconds. It will be hot, but it will cool down quickly once you add the veggies.

Dump the chicken onto the middle of the tortilla, add your veggies (feel free to put a lot on), and attempt to fold. I normally fold over one side, then the two ends, and then finally roll the wrap over the last side… but this is not always a success :/ My wraps are normally 75% veggie, 5% sauce, and 20% chicken… though the sauce may take up a bit more than that :)

I think this is around 310 Cal… but I wouldn’t know :)

Holiday Goodies

In between semesters is when I do the most cooking, and I am usually making sweet stuff. :) These are some of my favorite things to make this time of year, especially for Christmas:

Mint Brownies

One of everyone’s FAVORITES is my mint brownies, and they’re probably one of the easiest, too: Take your favorite plain, fudge brownie recipe and make it just like you always do (or you can use a box mix;)) Ten minutes after the brownies come out of the oven, put one (4.67-oz) pkg. of Andes creme de menthe thins (mints) on the brownies so that they are more or less evenly spaced. Five minutes later, take a spoon and swirl the chocolate mint around until it evenly covers the brownies. Then let it cool (and don’t forget to lick the spoon).

Petits Fours

Not quite as easy, but still simple are Brownie Petits Fours: Again cook some plain brownies. After they have cooled, cut them in to 1 1/4-inch squares. (It helps if you line the pan with foil or parchment paper, so it is easy to lift them out of the pan for cutting.)

Even as we get older, as my brother and sisters and I sit around decorating these, there are still some CRAZY looking pictures that come out :) But they still taste good <3

You also need:
1 (16-oz) pkg. semisweet chocolate chips
1 (16-ox) can chocolate fudge frosting
1 t vanilla
several colors of decorator frosting

In a medium saucepan, melt chocolate chips over very low heat, stirring constantly. (I use a double boiler for this, mostly because I hate stirring anything constantly.) Add frosting and vanilla; mix well till combined. Heat for a minute or two more, then remove from heat. (Keep it on the heat if you’re using a double boiler. It will give you more time to work; just keep it on low once everything is melted.)

To coat each brownie with icing, place it on a fork over the pan and spoon icing over it. If the icing thickens, heat it over low heat until it is back to the right consistency (this is also why I like the double boiler). Let them cool on a wire rack. (Any icing you don’t use can be put on parchment paper to cool and be eaten later as fudge.) Then grab the kids or a friend and decorate your petits fours. (Feel free to eat a few, too.)

These are fancy but easy treats, and I haven’t found anyone that doesn’t like them. ;D

Glazed Sausage

2 pounds pork sausage links (I usually am lazy and get the cooked stuff, but it doesn’t matter)
2 large tart apples, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, cut (cubed or strips, depending on if you want your kids to pick them out or not)
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
(I’m not sure that I have ever used these exact measurements, but it is a good guideline.)

If your sausage is uncooked, cook it according to package directions. Add onions, apples, water, and brown sugar. Over medium heat and stirring occasionally, cook for 5-8 minutes or until the the sugar turns to syrup. (It always seems to take longer. :P)

One more: Caramel-Pecan Bars

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut up 1 (18-oz) pkg. refrigerated sugar cookies and place in a 13×9-inch greased pan. Press dough into one big cookie, making sure to get the corners. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. (You’re looking for a golden brown.)

1 (12.25-oz) can caramel ice cream topping (yes, of course that 0.25 is important :P)
2 T all purpose flour
1 cup pecan pieces
1 cup flaked coconut (this can be omitted, but I don’t see why you would want to)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (ya, like that’s enough…)
(I always end up adding more of the pecans, coconut, and chips. If you leave the coconut out, make sure to replace it with a little extra other stuff.)

When the crust comes out of the oven (I should probably say that it will be hot), sprinkle pecans, coconut, and chips over it. Mix caramel and flour together, and drizzle it over the bars as evenly as you can. Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until bubbly. I know this is hard, but let it cool for at least an hour and a half before cutting and eating.

Power Drinks

Power drinks have become a huge market that makes hundreds of millions of dollars a year. But do we need them? o.0

Yes or No (circle one) ;)

Which did you pick? If no, then you were right! If yes, then you were also right!

Enough game show talk…Let’s look at science

By travis13's photostream

Power drinks a) have water, b) have sodium, and c) have electrolytes. Your body needs all of these, and it also loses all three when you do a moderate to heavy workout. One brand of power drink isn’t better than all the rest either, so just look for your favorite flavor (just so long as it doesn’t have very much sugar in it).

But there are other places to get these from than just power drinks. With a healthy,well-balanced diet, all you need to drink after working out is water. So if you really don’t like any of the flavors of sport drinks, this is great news. Just make sure to eat healthy before and after you work out. (But give the meal before a few hours to digest.)

If you don’t think you are eating enough, or if you really like the way it tastes, then drink it (and also work on your diet plan). The important thing is that you get plenty of water, so if the flavor of the power drink will get you to drink more, go for it! You won’t be hurting anything.

But do NOT just drink power drinks all the time. They are not health drinks!! If you’re not working out, then you’re not losing the sodium or electrolytes fast enough to need them in the quantity that the power drink will give them. Power drinks are not made so that you don’t have to eat your vegetables.

One more thing. If you’re doing much weight training, then make sure to get plenty of protein that day. You can’t grow muscle if you don’t have adequate protein. (I would like to think that this was obvious… but I have learned not to assume anything.) Oh, and ah, don’t eat the bottle ;)