First Lady Cookie Recipes





Every 4 four years we can look forward to a Presidential election and a cookie bake off with the First Lady and the hopeful First Lady.  This year Michelle Obama and Ann Romney had a bake off, Mama Kaye’s White and Dark Chocolate Chip versus M and M Cookies. 


The holidays are approaching, and I thought I would share Michelle and Anne’s recipes since they didn’t get much attention in the midst of the battle for the highest position in the land.  

Family Circle Magazine announced the winner of the bake off in their October 2012 issue.  The winner, Michelle Obama. I have not made either of the recipes, but intend to whip up a batch of each for Christmas gifts this season.    Here’s the recipes: 


Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 stick Crisco butter-flavored solid vegetable shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup each white chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips and mint chocolate chips (or Andes mint pieces)
2 cups chopped walnuts

Preparation:
1. Heat oven to 375°.
2. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream butter, vegetable shortening, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract.
3. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. On low speed, beat in flour mixture. By hand, stir in white and milk chocolate chips, mint chips and walnuts.
5. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto un-greased baking sheets.
6. Bake at 375° for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.  Makes 5 dozen.

Ingredients:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups crunchy peanut butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup (such as Karo)
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking soda
6 ounces chocolate chips
2/3 cups M&M’s candies

Preparation:
1. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream sugars, butter, peanut butter and corn syrup on high speed until well combined. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in vanilla extract.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together oats and baking soda. Stir into peanut butter mixture until combined. Mix in chocolate chips and M&M’s.
3. Using a standard-size ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets (about 9 per sheet). Bake at 325 degrees F for 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 2 minutes, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.  Makes 3 dozen.

Children’s Birthday Party Food Ideas

I found these adorable fruit ideas and just had to share them with my readers.  I actually made the butterfly slices shown in the last picture for my grandchildren’s birthday party, and the children devoured them.  They’re easy to make and make a statement on the food table. 

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Chicken Salad Recipe

The holidays are coming, and if your like me you will be entertaining.  This recipe is great for finger sandwiches for birthday parties or baby showers too. 

Ingredients:

1 Perdue Oven Stuffer Roaster
1 medium onion
6 medium dill pickles
6 boiled eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/2  tsp. pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
2 bullion cubes
1 30 ounce jar Hellman’s or Kraft real mayo


Boil the oven stuffer roaster in a  large pot with the onion, salt, pepper, garlic powder and bullion cubes until it falls off the bone.  Broth can be kept for soup. 

Remove the chicken from the pot and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Remove the skin and de-bone the chicken while it’s still warm.  Chop the pickles, eggs and a small onion to add to the chicken salad.  Place the warm chicken in a chopper and finely chop.  Thoroughly mix the ingredients with the chopped chicken in a large bowl by hand.  Next add 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste.  Add in 3/4 of the jar of mayo and mix thoroughly with a spoon.  Chill overnight and add the remaining jar of mayo. 

 Spread mixture on party rolls and enjoy. 

Stomp Out Domestic Violence

 

 

 

 

 

Stomp Out Domestic Violence.  That was the theme at the Purple Passion Fashion show that I attended this week-end.  It was wonderful seeing so much diversity among the models, and the community coming together for this worthy cause.  

 October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  If it hasn’t affected you personally, I guarantee it has affected someone that you know and love.  Women are the majority of victims; however, men encounter their share of abuse too.  Men are more likely to not report or discuss the violence.  Here are the Domestic Violence Statistics for 2012:
  • Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.
  • Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family. 
  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
  •  Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.

  • Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
  • Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.
  • Ninety-two percent of women surveyed listed reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern.
  • Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.
  • Based on reports from 10 countries, between 55 percent and 95 percent of women who had been physically abused by their partners had never contacted non-governmental organizations, shelters, or the police for help.
  • The costs of intimate partner violence in the US alone exceed $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion.
  • Men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents

Mother 2 Mother is encouraging each of you to Stomp.  You can get involved in so many ways.  You can donate used clothing for women and children to your local Women’s Shelter.  You can donate baked goods or have a food drive to ensure women on the run have food to feed their children.  You can donate a toy this holiday season to ensure the children being housed in a shelter have a great Christmas, and of course monetary donations are always welcome. 

Have you or someone that you know been involved in domestic violence?  Please share how you were able to remove yourself from this abusive situation.  You could help save a life or give someone the courage they need to leave their situation.   

Vegetable Garden Closed



I’ll be spending the day closing out the garden.  Frost it hit Friday night, so it’s done for the season.  This is my second year gardening, and I’m really enjoying it.  There’s nothing better than picking fresh vegetables in your back yard and preserving them for future use.  This year I planted a variety of tomatoes, squash, zucchini, peppers, green beans and Sugar Baby watermelons.  

I love sliced tomatoes with a little mayo.  I freeze the green beans to use with green beans and corn for holiday meals and family gatherings.  This year I froze a variety of peppers and tried my hand at pickling them.  I have to say the pickled peppers are the bomb.  I sent a few jars home with my daughter and in-laws and they received great reviews.  They are so good the cleaning lady at my office chased me down as I was leaving with two empty jars asking me to refill them, lol. 
I eat them on nachos, in chili and anything else that I can find to put them on.   I made fresh salsa and canned it.  It’s a lot of work, but so worth it.  I love being able to pull out a jar of garden fresh salsa during the winter and it tasting like I just worked down to the garden and picked the ingredients.  I’ll be munching while reading my kindle when the cold weather sets in.  What I’ve enjoyed most is having my grandson involved in watering and harvesting the veggies. 

Here’s a picture of one of my prized tomatoes weighing in at 1.136 ounces.  It was huge and delicious.  I managed to harvest at least 6 colanders of green beans putting away 5 – 6 quarts in the freezer.  Probably the same amount for peppers.  In addition to the frozen peppers, I’ve canned (pictured below) 30 – 40 pints/quarts of pickled peppers, most given away.  
 
I’m working on 12 pints of salsa this week-end.  I’ll be putting them in baskets along with salsa chips and homemade cookies and brownies for Christmas gifts.   Do you have a garden?  How productive was it?  If not, are you interested in planting one and exchanging gardening techniques and seeds next season?  Please leave me  a comment and let me know your thoughts.  You can find my gardening blog here

Celebrity Baby Nurseries We Love


It’s been a year since we decorated Zarriah’s nursery.  I was browsing pictures of celebrity nurseries that I found adorable, and thought I would share them with you.  I love taking ideas from various rooms, they may inspire you or give you an idea for a baby shower gift.  

This is Buddy Valastro’s, Cake Boss, nursery.  I love anything chocolate, and feel in love with the Espresso colors used in the nursery now.   We used the Espresso furniture in Zarriah’s nursery with lavender and pinks.  Not on the scale of a celebrity, but you can see our ideas for her nursery here: http://mother-2-mother.blogspot.com/2011/10/decorating-nursery-on-budget.html

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This J.R. Martinez and his wife’s nursery for their new daughter Lauryn Anabelle.  They too used the Espresso furniture.  I love how the name is spelled out and the angels above the crib watching over Lauryn is adorable.  This may be one of my all time favorites.  Simple, but elegant. 
 

This is a picture of P. Diddy’s twin daughters nursery.  They went with the off white furniture.  Check out the mural on the wall.  They too incorporated angels into their nursery theme.  Talk about bringing the outdoors in, I love it

This Dr. Phil’s granddaughter’s nursery.  I personally don’t know any grandparents who have a nursery in their home especially one of this caliber, but it is absolutely beautiful.  I love the window seat and the colors are soothing. 

This is Mel B’s nursery.  I love the pastel colors.  The canopy and bows are adorable.  It has just a hint of color, but it’s bold enough to bring the room to life. 

I hope these celebrity nurseries inspire you!  Leave me a comment, and let me know which is your favorite. 

Easy Recipe – Fresh Salsa Recipe

recipes, party recipes, salsa recipe

First, I made 5 pints of fresh salsa this week-end and it was delicious.  Trying to get the salsa into the jars was quite an endeavor.  Simply because I kept eating it.  This recipe is great served fresh too.  I serve it with chips. When I decide to serve it fresh, I place the salsa in bowls.  The next step is to chill it for several hours. It is so delicious.  Fortunately, I have other great backyard vegetable gardening tips too.  Be sure to check them out before you leave.

Next, if you have tomatoes, fresh peppers and onions that you want to use, I urge you to try this recipe.  Be warned, it’s addictive. So, head to your local farmer’s market if you don’t have the ingredients.  It’s great if you’re having company or if your children are salsa lovers too.  I’ll let you in on a secret.  Ask for seconds at your local farmer’s market.  They sell them at discounts because of a blemish, discoloration,  or deformity.  Your recipe won’t know the difference.

For this batch I used:

  • 15 – 20 tomatoes, skin removed and chopped (I used a mix of yellow, purple and red tomatoes)
  • 2 large red onions finely diced
  • 15-20 chilies, remove the veins & seeds, finely chopped
  • 5 chilies with the seeds if you like spicy
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
 *NOTE:  I didn’t include the lime juice.  If you’re going to can it, please include all ingredients listed.  Also, see my tips on how to remove the skins from fresh tomatoes.
 salsa recipes, fresh salsa
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, stir together tomatoes, onion, chili peppers, cilantro, salt, and lime juice. Chill for one hour in the refrigerator before serving.

If you want a smaller batch, cut the recipe in half.  I recommend Roma or Amish Paste tomatoes for salsa and sauces.  However, whatever is available will work for this recipe.  I used a mixture of Roma and slicers this time.  As a result, the salsa was quite watery.  Fortunately, the problem can be solved by placing the salsa in a colander and allowing it to drain for about 30 minutes. You can gradually add the liquid back in until you reach the desire consistency.  When I’m serving salsa for a party, I like for it to be chunky and to have very little water.  I don’t want my guest having salsa dripping down their clothes.

Christening Day

 

 

Last month we lifted Zarriah to the Lord.  It is such a blessing to know that your children and grandchildren will be raised as Christens, and the icing on the cake is being a witness to the event.  We chose this adorable 2 piece Shantung Dress from Pink Princess for the big day.  I’m glad we did, the picture doesn’t do the dress justice.  The price was great, and it was exactly what we were looking for, simple but elegant.  I’m going to have it cleaned and boxed for Zarriah.  We ordered an adorable bracelet; however, it wasn’t shipped.  Pink Princess did give me a refund promptly, but when you’re counting on using a particular accessory for a special occasion it can be disappointing when it is not received.  Thankfully, a friend of my daughter’s had given Zarriah a bracelet as a gift.

 

 

I must say, my little Zarriah was an angel during the service.  Because we had the huge carnival party the day before, we only had a small family gathering after the service.  We used the ladybug cake made for the carnival party for dessert.  Zarriah is enjoying her cake along with her God mother, who is a friend of my daughter’s from college.  Amazing lady, she was juggling a 3 month old and a 4 year old that week-end, but still made time to celebrate the Christening with us.

We were so blessed to have so many family members join us at the service.  I will always cherish this picture.  Zarriah will be able to look back one day, and see how much she is loved and those who stood as a witness to help raise her as a Christian. For other Christening Day ideas, click on this link, Christening Day – Make It Special

 

Children’s Carnival Birthday Party Ideas


kids carnival birthday party tips

We celebrated Xavier and Zarriah’s birthdays a few weeks ago.  We decided to combine their parties this year since we were having guests from out of town.  Zarriah’s Christening was the following day, so we decided to have a week-end of festivities.  I had a blast planning it, and it was the party of the year.  At least for a kid’s birthday party.

We decided to go with a carnival theme party.  So, if you’re looking for carnival birthday party ideas you’ve come to the right place.  Before we decided to combine the parties, we had planned a Ladybug party for Zarriah.  My daughter wanted me to incorporate the ladybugs into the carnival theme, which presented a challenge.  If you know me, you know that I’m always up for a challenge.  We decided to include a ladybug cake in addition to the bright colored cupcakes.  We decided to use carnival themed toppers on the cupcakes.  Didn’t both turn out adorable.

 

 

Next, we rented a huge tent from a catering company.  We used bright and bold colored tablecloths on the tables.  The lot included red, blue, yellow, green and pink.  In addition, we used 3 banquet tables to feature the cakes and finger foods.  Our menu included chicken salad sandwiches, wings, ladybug crackers, butterflies orange slices, which I forgot to get a picture of, and the kids loved them.  The butterflies were orange slices cut in half, turned in the opposite direction and a slice of strawberry set in the center.  Additionally, we served potato salad, veggies and dip, chips and hot dogs.

 

 

Here’s a picture, although not very good,  of the ladybug crackers we served.  The base is a Ritz cracker topped with chicken salad, a cherry tomato sliced for the wings, and a black olive held on with a plain toothpick.  Both the adults and kids loved them.  Click here for the creamy chicken salad recipe.  We

 

 

 

You can’t have a carnival without a clown.  So, we hired two clown to entertain the kids for an hour.  They were great.  This is Bubbles B, she made a balloon hat for granddaddy and his birthday girl.  In the picture above that, Zarriah is studying Bubbles B.  This was her first experience around a clown.  We were wondering if she was going to cry in the picture above, but after studying her for a few minutes they became good friends.

 

 

We set up a balloon dart board, and secured it to one of the storage building.  It was the perfect height for all the kids to participate.  That’s my niece, she was the dart board champion.

 

 

The kids couldn’t leave the carnival with out a bag of popcorn or a sno-cone.  As a result, we rented a popcorn machine and a sno-cone machine.  They were both hits as you can see.  We were able to get a good deal along with the bounce house.  We gave tickets to all of the kids when they arrived, and we had an adult stationed at each event.  Each event or item required 3 tickets.

 

 

The kids participated in a sack race.  Needless to say, they had a ball.  We purchased the sacks from Party City.  I use them for my July 4th cookouts too.

 

 

Somehow, we had to include a ladybug activity into the festivities.  This is the buggy bus.  We taped ladybug wings to the back of the bus.  And we placed eyelashes over the lights to get our ladybug some character.  The kids loved it.  I had to station an adult at the buggy bus, because the kids were fighting over her.  I was so happy to incorporate the ladybug into the carnival theme.

Get creative, and you will come up with plenty of carnival birthday party ideas too.  We had a Duck Pond game as well, however, the kids had other plans for it.  They decided to stand in it and cool off.  FIY – if you are planning to use this game at a party, make sure you use weighted ducks so they can float.  Additionally, we also had a Veggie Can Toss.  Unfortunately, it rained and we were unable to play that game.  The kids headed to the Bounce House and we were unable to retrieve them after that.  We had to literally start deflating the tent before we could get them out.

 

 

My grandson showing off his balloon hat.  Balloon hats and animals are great carnival birthday party ideas too.  The kids enjoyed watching the clowns make them.  We gave each kid one as they were leaving as a part of their goodie bag.

 

I’m glad birthdays only come once a year, but the memories of my grandson and granddaughter will be forever.  I plan to do a scrapbook, my other passion, so they can look back on this great child’s carnival birthday party.  I hope you found my carnival birthday party ideas helpful.  Implement a few, and you will be able to throw the birthday party of the year too.  You may also like Chuck E Cheese party ideas or Kid’s Birthday Party Ideas.
                                   

Squash Casserole

Need to use up that squash and zucchini from the garden or that pile that you found on your porch from the neighbors?  You’ll love this recipe.  It’s quick, easy and delicious.  My garden didn’t produce an abundance of squash or zucchini this year.  I started an abundance of plants inside to get ahead of the season, but I got hit with vine borers and squash, but I was able to salvage a few for this recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 3 yellow squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 – 10 ounces of Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup of mayo
  • 3 tablespoons of melted butter
  • bread crumbs.

Cube squash and zucchini
and saute for 10 – 15 minutes along with the chopped onion.  Mix the mayo and
eggs.  Add the cheese to the mixture; blend well.  Drain the squash and zucchini
and add to a greased baking dish.  Mix in the mayo, egg and cheese mixture.  Top
with bread crumbs and drizzle the butter over the bread crumbs.  Bake for 30
minutes at 350 degrees
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Follow my garden adventures at A Diva’s Garden, http://adivasgarden.blogspot.com

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