Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A look back at 2008....

I pray that everyone had a very blessed Christmas this year. Can you believe 2008 is almost over? It is hard to believe that we are about to begin a new year...a year of "change" for most people. Since starting this blog on June 15, 2008 I have had the best time posting recipes, reading comments, and most of all reading other people's blogs! I have absolutely no idea how many people read my blog, but I appreciate you taking the time to. :)

Over the past year, a lot of things have happened in my life (mostly unrelated to food!). Here is just a snapshot of things that have occurred:

*Horribly sick on New Year's Eve, 2008 (stayed in friends' bathroom until 3 am) - a foreshadow of what was yet to come
*Another "episode" of the horrible sickness in February
*A third episode in March - thus sending me to a Gastroenterologist
*Colonoscopy (my first and hopefully last!!)
*Admitted to the hospital where I spent 8 days
*Gallbladder surgery (man am I glad to get rid of that thing!)
*April - recovery the entire month (off from work)
*May - Getting back into the swing of things, traded 2002 Grand Prix for 2007 Sonata (yay!)
*June - "Stay-cation" in Louisville, KY (due to earlier health problems and finances)
*July - our 6 year anniversary and my birthday!!!
*August - mini-vacation to Gatlinburg, TN
*August 26 - found out I am PREGNANT!!
*September - Hurricane Ike blows through Louisville, KY
*October - trip to Huber's (including one of the BEST caramel apples I've ever had!)
*November - in-laws come to Louisville for Thanksgiving (I cooked!), traded 05 Chevy Colorado for 07 Mitsubishi Galant ($200 cheaper payment per month!)
*December - found out Baby Lowe is a BOY! Went to both families for Christmas, celebrated the Birth of Jesus Christ.

Well there you have it - just a few things that happened in the life of the Lowes in 2008 (there was plenty more, but these are just a few of the highlights).

Now for a recipe. Since New Year's Day will arrive tomorrow, and we all have heard the superstitions of eating black-eyed peas, cabbage, and other foods for "good luck", here is a recipe that I am sure you will enjoy. It has nothing to do with cabbage or black-eyed peas, and it may or may not bring you luck....but what is luck anyway?

Hot Chicken Dip

4-5 chicken breasts, shredded
1 8-oz. block of cream cheese
1 bottle of ranch dressing
1 block or 1 package of monterey jack cheese, shredded
can of Rotel tomatoes (tomatoes with chilis)

Mix all ingredients together. Pour into casserole dish or baking dish. Bake at 35o for 10 minutes, or until everything is melted together. Serve with tortilla chips or corn chips.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Stay tuned -- there is lots to come in the new year for Bites With Brandi...including some neat giveaways!! Details soon....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the 12th day of Christmas treats...

my daddy gave to me.....Yep, today's post is one of my dad's recipes, and it is made in the microwave!

Dad's Divinity

2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Butter a 8-inch baking dish, set aside. In a 2-quart microwave-safe glass measuring cup with handle, combine sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt. Microwave on HIGH for 5 minutes. Stir well until sugar dissolves. Microwave on HIGH for another 5-6 minutes or until mixture reaches 260 degrees (check temp with a candy thermometer).

In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites untiol stiff peaks form. While beating at low speed, slowly pour hot syrup into egg whites. Continue beating until mixture loses its gloss, about 10-12 minutes. Blend in vanilla, stir in walnuts and quickly press mixture into a buttered 8-inch square pan. Let stand until firm then cut into squares. Makes 1 1/2 pounds.

May each of you and your families have a very blessed Christmas and New Year!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Now for the 11th day of Christmas treats...

These are so easy -- I made a batch in no time. A perfect snack too!

White Chocolate Pretzels

1 bag mini pretzels
1 bag white chocolate chips (I use Hershey's)
Paraffin (optional)
Sprinkles (optional)

Melt white chocolate chips in a double broiler on the stove. Mix in about 2 tablespoons of paraffin if desired. Stir until all chips/paraffin are melted and smooth. Dip pretzels in white chocolate and place on waxed paper. Sprinkle with red and green sprinkles, or other sprinkles. Let cool until set. Makes a whole bag of pretzels (however big of a bag you have).

Monday, December 22, 2008

Before I post the 11th day of Christmas treats....

I have just got to show you something!!

.........Introducing BAKERELLA!!!

One of my favorite food blogs is Bakerella. She is soooo talented! She is known for her cupcakes and her cupcake pops, as well as her red velvet cake balls. I try to read her blog at least once every day. She was even a guest on Martha Stewart's show! I wish I could be as talented as she is....

Anyway, you have to check out her blog post for today on Snow Globe Coca-Cola Cupcakes. These are SO NEAT!! And check out what she uses for the globe part. Awesome!!

If you have never seen her blog, trust me it will become one of your favorites. Have fun!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The 9th and 10th days....

On the 9th (and 10th) days of Christmas treats, my true love baked for me...... Christmas Pancakes with Maple Cranberry Syrup!!

Christmas Morning Pancakes (ideas/recipes from Chef Pam Price)

I like to add cinnamon and fresh ground nutmeg to my favorite store bought boxed pancake mix then pack it into a mason jar with the recipe for Christmas Morning Pancakes. Sometimes I add a package of country ham, apples and festive holiday cloth napkins.

Recipe for Christmas Pancakes:
Mix pancake batter using water and enough pancake mixture to form a smooth batter the consistency of sour cream. Peel two apples, core and slice into very thin slices. Place griddle or pan on medium heat for two minutes. Place one teaspoon real butter in the pan swirling to cover the surface. Add 6 apple slices in a circle shape. Pour batter over the apples. Lower the heat slightly and cook until bubbles come to the top and the edges appear dry. Flip and cook the other side. Remove to heated platter and keep warm . Repeat to make as many pancakes as desired. Serve with maple cranberry syrup and sliced fried country ham.

Maple Cranberry Syrup (also from Chef Pam)

1-cup maple syrup
½ cup whole berry cranberry sauce
¼ cup chopped walnuts

In a one-quart saucepan, combine the syrup and cranberry sauce. Heat, stirring occasionally, until cranberry sauce is melted. Stir in the walnuts. Pour into a small decorative jar. Give instructions on a recipe card to serve warm. Store covered in the refrigerator up to four weeks.

*This would also be a great gift for an anniversary, birthday, or hostess gift.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

On the 6th, 7th, and 8th days of Christmas treats....

Okay, I guess I shouldn't make a promise I cannot keep. I promised that I would not fail to post each day's Christmas treats...but indeed I have failed. Therefore I am making it up today with 3 Christmas treats! I hope you enjoy them.

Oreo Truffles
1 package Oreos, crushed until very fine (I use a food processor)
2 pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1 pkg. white chocolate bark, melted

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Stir in crushed Oreos until mixed well. Roll into balls. Place on wax paper and freeze for 10-15 minutes. Remove from freezer and dip in melted bark. Makes 75 truffles. (These are to die for!!)

Oatmeal Scotchies (this recipe is from my friend Tricia)

1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract or grated peel of 1 orange
3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
1 2/3 cups (11 oz. pkg) Nestle Toll House Butterscotch Flavored Morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 7-8 minutes for chewy cookies; 9 to 10 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. (Makes about 4 dozen cookies)

Easy Hot Fudge Ice Cream Sauce (a recipe from Chef Pam Price)

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup miniature marshmallows
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook over medium to low heat until melted and smooth, stirring constantly. Pour into decorative jars and store in the refrigerator up to one week.

Gift Idea: Tie a nice ribbon around the jar top and dangle jingle bells from the ends. Pack in a nice bag with a new ice cream scoop, ice cream themed paper napkins, or a set of colorful dessert/ice cream bowls.

More to come in the next few days!! :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

5 GOLD-EN ...........wreaths??

Okay, so the wreaths are not really golden, unless you don't add the food coloring. :) These are so festive for Christmas! You can use crisp rice cereal, but this recipe calls for good ole' corn flakes. They are so pretty and great to give as gifts. Plus, you only need 5 ingredients!! Check out the recipe (and I apologize for the measurements - I just usually eyeball everything):

Corn Flake Wreaths

1 bag mini-marshmallows
1/2 stick butter
A couple of drops of green food coloring
1/2 box of cornflakes (about 5 cups, or more if batter is too sticky)
Red hots candies or red M&Ms

Melt butter in large saucepan. Add marshmallows and stir until marshmallows are melted. Add in green food coloring until well blended. Remove from heat. Fold in cornflakes until coated. Drop spoonfuls onto waxed paper and form into wreaths. While still warm, place a few red hots or M&Ms onto wreaths (for holly berries). Cool in fridge for about an hour. Enjoy!

Friday, December 12, 2008

On the fourth day of Christmas treats....

I have to be honest and say that I have never made Gingerbread Men. Nope, haven't tried my hand at these cute little spicy fellas. I have made Gingerbread, though. I have some great quality sorghum that I use in my gingerbread that comes from a little place in Jeffersonville, KY called Townsend's Sorghum. I highly recommend their sorghum as it is the best I have tasted! And, if you have never had sorghum molasses, you do not know what you are missing. :)

This is a recipe from my friend Kim. She is an excellent baker and practically bakes every day! Her blog is full of recipes and restaurant reviews. This is one of her cookie recipes, although my favorite cookies of hers are her Soft Jumbo Peanut Butter Cookies and her Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. Here you go:

Gingerbread Cookies

3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp each nutmeg and cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all of the above dry ingredients.

1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup molasses (unsulphured - the normal kind you can find in the syrup aisle)

Cream butter and sugar, add egg. Stir in molasses. Add in the dry ingredients. Mix well.
Spray cookie sheets or use parchment paper. Bake for 9 minutes.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

On the 3rd day of Christmas treats, tell me what can it be??

So sorry I failed to post yesterday's Christmas treat! I promise not to let it happen again. :)

Today's Christmas treat is one of my all-time favorite goodies, especially at Christmas-time. They are so yummy, so easy to make, and fun! The only thing that is a little time-consuming is rolling the mixture into balls (but that is the fun part). :)

Peanut Butter Balls

2 sticks butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla
2 boxes powdered sugar
1 jar creamy (or crunchy) peanut butter
Chocolate for dipping **

Mix butter, vanilla, powdered sugar, and penaut butter together until the mixture forms a dough. Roll into little balls about 1 inch in size. Dip balls in chocolate (dark, milk, or white) and place on wax or parchment paper to cool. Enjoy! Makes about 75 balls.

**You can also melt a little bit of paraffin wax into your chocolate for a glossy finish on your peanut butter balls.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Day 2 of "The 12 Days of Christmas Treats"

For today's treat, I thought I would post something a little different than your usual Christmas cookie or candy. This recipe is from one of my long-time best friends, Melissa. I am hooked on this mix!! Try it for yourself:

Yum-Yum Candied Mix

5 cups Rice Chex cereal
5 cups Corn Chex cereal
4 cups Wheat Chex cereal
4 cups oats and honey granola
1 box Honey Teddy Grahams (about 3 cups)
4 cups pecan pieces (or whole pecans)
1 package of dried cranberries

1 cup (2 sticks) of butter
¾ cup light corn syrup
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup honey

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spray large roasting pan with cooking spray. Combine the first 7 ingredients in large sprayed roasting pan; set aside. Combine butter and remaining ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour mixture over the combine cereals, tossing to coat. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Pour onto wax paper to cool, gently separating with a spoon. Store in airtight container.

This is better than any granola I have had, or almost any other snack mix (there a few that rank pretty high on my list). Plus it is so easy!! Even kids can help you with this treat, just make sure they stay away from the hot sugar mixture (of course).

This mix would be a great gift for co-workers, teachers, and friends. Just put a scoop into a Christmas cellophane bag (like those treat bags you find at the dollar store), tie it with a pretty ribbon, and attach a little card and there you go -- instant Christmas gift!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The 12 Days of Chrismas Treats....Day 1

In honor of Christmas and the official start of the "baking season", I thought I would do a series of posts on yummy Christmas treats -- 12 days of them!

The one I have chosen for today is super, super easy and very festive. The main thing to remember when making this treat is to use a good quality white chocolate, NOT vanilla bark. I would recommend Ghirardelli White Chocolate Chips or another good quality white chocolate chip. Here is the recipe:

Peppermint Bark

2 packages white chocolate chips
1 box candy canes (either these or these)

Pour both packages of chips into a glass mixing bowl. Melt using double-broiler method (or microwave) until chips are completely melted and smooth.

Meanwhile, unwrap each candy cane and place in a sturdy, plastic zip-top bag. Crush with rolling pin or meat mallot until there are no more large pieces (some chunky pieces are okay, do not crush them too fine).

Pour candy cane pieces into melted white chocolate (reserve a couple of tablespoons full). Stir until well blended. Pour onto cookie sheet covered in wax paper or parchment paper. Spread evenly over the sheet. Put in fridge to cool and harden.

Once hardened, break into pieces - big, medium, small. Enjoy!!

*Option: you can add peppermint extract/flavoring to the bark if you would like, but it is kind of overpowering.

Stay tuned to Day 2 of The 12 Days of Christmas Treats!! Who knows what yummy goodness will come up next..... :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Tribute.....

This is a tribute to all of those pregnant women out there, or women who plan to become pregnant (don't worry, your time is coming!).

First of all, let me say that my husband and I are thrilled with this blessing from God. We have been married for 6 years and have been "trying" off and on for about 4 years. Nothing wrong with either of us -- it was just God's Timing. We have prayed for this baby for so long and He heard our prayers and answered them. :)

So, since I discovered I was "with child" several months ago (I'm 20 weeks along), I thought about all of the yummy foods I would have the chance to eat. You know, those foods that are forbidden in Weight Watchers. I haven't really had any weird cravings yet, just mainly ice cream and french fries. However, I recently discovered (while my family was in over Thanksgiving) Dill Pickle popcorn from The Popcorn Station. Yes, you read right -- DILL PICKLE popcorn! This place is amazing!! They have 25 different flavors of popcorn from savory to sweet. My husband got the chocolate peanut butter flavor (it's yummy too!). Other flavors include honey barbecue, nacho cheese, strawberries and creme, double butterscotch, and Kentucky honey with pecans.

Some other foods I have been interested in lately are:
*Totinos Pizzas
*White Chocolate covered Oreos
*Onion Rings
*Broccoli-cheese casserole
*Sweet potato casserole
*Cranberry ginger ale
*anything chocolate

What are some of your cravings? Anything unusual? I would love to hear about them!

By the way........................we are having a BOY!!!! :)