Jalapeno Popper Dip

I get asked for this recipe every time I make it.  I've altered it from the version on allrecipes.com to suit my tastes.  Enjoy this easy party dip!

2 packages cream cheese (room temp)
1 cup mayo
1 can (4oz) chopped chilies
2 oz chopped jalapeno peppers ( I use the canned ones)
1 cup of parm cheese
1/2 cup panko
olive oil

Stir together cream cheese and mayo till smooth.  Stir in chilies, peppers, and 1/2 cup of the parm.  Pour into an oven safe plate and top with panko and remaining parm.  Finally drizzle with olive oil and bake at 350 degrees F till golden brown and bubble, about 30 mins.

Serve with toasted baguette slices or your favorite chips!



Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent . . The Bynes' Falls Blend

Well I finally tried it and so far I am thrilled with the results!!!!  I made my own powdered laundry detergent- wahoo!!!!  I picked powdered over liquid simply for storage reasons.  I still pre treat stains as clothes go in the hamper with Zout- and so far this concoction of all natural cleaners has passed the test!

You will need . . . 
 2 cups of ivory snow (if you can't find snow, grate 2 cups of an ivory bar into the mixture)
1 cup of borax
1 cup of washing soda
1/2 cup powdered Purex 2 (or any color safe bleach)

Mix together in a sealable container and add two heaping tablespoons to the water in your laundry machine before adding clothes.
 ***shake it up every time you use it***

Also pour a cup of vinegar into your machines fabric softener dispenser to get soft clothes every time- with no extra smells!

The best part of this was a years worth of all of the ingredients cost 10 dollars!!!  Imagine the savings over the year.  

I found all of my ingredients at a local large supermarket chain.


Chocolate Cognac Tart

I was watching Giada make  a chocolate tart the other day on her food network show.  I thought the way she put it together was so simple and easy- I wanted to try it- but I changed around the ingredients so that I could use this vanilla cognac that is burning a hole in my cabinet.  Interested? Read on!

You will need
4 Tablespoons butter plus enough butter to grease the pan (room temp)
9 chocolate graham crackers (the whole piece, not halves)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup honey
12 oz chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon espresso powder
1/2 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon vanilla Cognac (ok, if you didn't want to splurge on this you could leave it out, but oh my does it make this tart incredible) 

The how to
Heat oven to 350 degrees F
Butter bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan

Place chocolate graham crackers in the food processor- mix till crackers are fine crumbs.  Add butter and pulse until it's all mixed together.  Press the crumb mixture in the bottom of the pan and bake for 12 minutes.  Cool to room temperature.

While crust is cooling, in a small saucepan, whisk together cream and honey over low heat till combined.  Place chocolate chips, cinnamon, vanilla, chili powder, espresso powder and cognac in another bowl.  Pour the hot cream mixture over and stir until the chips are melted and mixture is smooth.  Pour over crumb crust and refrigerate overnight.

The next day loosen tart from pan with a knife and place on serving plate.  Cut into wedges and serve well chilled!!!!


Quick and Easy Chicken Satay App

I needed a a quick appetizer to make for an afternoon with the ladies.  Problem being I just didn't have time to fuss over it.  I had all the ingredients at home and quickly put together this fantastic chicken satay.  The peanut sauce was out of this world- check it out below!

Chicken Ingredients-
1 lbs chicken cutlets (cut them in strips)
equal amounts of lime, lemon, grapefruit, and orange juice (fresh)
2 grate cloves of garlic
dash red wine vinegar
salt, pepper, and a few seasonings of your choice (I used thyme and oregano)

Chicken How to-
Throw all the above in a bowl, place in fridge for two hours (or so)
soak wooden skewers in water while the chicken is marinating
place chicken on skewers, grill 3 minutes on each side
place on serving plate 

Peanut Sauce Ingredients-
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/8 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon red chili paste
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 lime juiced
1/2 lemon juiced
1/4 cup hot water

Peanut Sauce How to-
throw first 6 ingredients in food processor and blend blend blend
thin out sauce to your liking with hot water
place in bowl



Semi- Homemade Pop Tarts

I've been seeing Pop Tart recipes all over the Internet, they all require making your own pie crust.  I came up with a few short cuts to make up a homemade batch real quick. You can even do all the prep the night before and pop them into the oven in the morning. 
They were super yum!

You will need:
Store bought pie crust
filling of your choice, I used jam
sugar in the raw

The how to:

roll out your dough real thin, and cut out rectangle shapes
fill with your filling

Fold over to make the Pop Tart shape

Seal edges with fork, and cut of extra edge
Make a few vent holes on top for baking

Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar in the raw
Place in a 400 degree F oven on cookie sheet with parchment paper for 15 minutes, or until golden brown



Nothing nutty about it granola

I really really really like granola.  However, I have a hard time buying it because most prepackaged granola contains nuts.  So I have created my own batch and want to share it with you.

You will need:

3 cups of rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 dried cranberries
2 T of sugar
1/8 t of salt
6 T honey
2 T vegetable oil
1/2  cup of your favorite chocolate (You can use mini chips, but today I used bars and chopped them)

The how to:

Heat your oven to 300 degrees F
Combine oats, coconut, cranberries, sugar, and salt in a bowl
Heat honey and oil together on stove top with whisk constantly until combined.  The purpose of the heat is to melt thick honey only
Mix honey mixture into oat mixture and pour on a aluminum foil (non- stick) covered cookie sheet
Bake for twenty minutes until golden.  Stir half way through cooking time.

Transfer to storage bowl and let cool.  Continue to mix during the cooling process so oats don't stick together.  Once 100% cooled, mix in chocolate and enjoy!


Mother's Day gifts from the heart

So I packaged up these quick and easy mother's day gifts . . 
I thought I would share the recipes

this orange marmalade was so easy to make and knock your socks off delicious!  I changed nothing in this 3 ingredient recipe.

Next I made a batch and a half of these bath salts

The changes I made were minimal.  I used dead sea salts instead of sea salt.  Honestly I'm not sure what the differences are or might be, I just know that it sounded more luxurious. Then I combined a couple of essential oils to make a completely custom scent.  I used lemongrass, lavender, and eucalyptus.  I did test these out already- and they smelled wonderful and were moisturizing as promised.

Hope every has a wonderful Mother's day!

French Onion Soup and Wings

Well I think this is possibly the best french onion soup we have ever had!

Here is the link to the original recipe

I did make a few changes though (shocking) to the above recipe.
I found that the cooking times were way off.  The second time the onions roasted in the oven only needed another hour max.  Also after each addition of liquid, it really only takes a few minutes for the liquid to evaporate- just make sure you stir the whole time.  My final change to this recipe was that instead of a plain baguette- I used toasted garlic bread and topped with the Gruyere Cheese- OMG- to die for!!!!

Oh yeah- one more thing before I forget!!!!  Make the soup the day before:):)  Don't skip that step.

I served the yummy soup with some wings. I baked them at 375 for about 45 mins.  Half way through I start basting them with a mixture of orange marmalade (about 1/2 cup), soy sauce (about 1/4 cup), few dashes of garlic powder, and finally a splash of orange vinegar. Every 5ish minutes I basted them again with the above mixture.  They were out of this world!!!!!


my Chicago cravings continued . . .

There is this bakery in Northbrook, IL that I love.  They have the best banana bread with chocolate frosting.  I miss it so much that one of my girlfriends mails it to me to cheer up my days here in Connecticut.  Well I've been trying and trying to recreate it and finally I have!!!!  So I share with you banana cupcakes with chocolate frosting.

You must make the banana cupcakes a day in advance. No cheating here! You will frost them on the second day.

you will need:

1 stick of room temp butter
2/3 cup of sugar
2 eggs
2 over ripe bananas
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tablespoons of hot milk
1 tsp of baking powder
1 cup of flour (sifted)

2 3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar (measure after you sift)
6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey's special dark)
6 Tablespoons room temp butter
5 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

cream together butter and sugar
add eggs one at a time
add bananas
dissolve baking soda in hot milk fold into batter
fold in flour and baking powder

place in butter and floured muffin pans in a 325 degree oven till golden and toothpick comes out clean. approx 35 minutes.  

Makes 12 cupcakes, let cool and place in a airtight container till next day

sift together cocoa and powdered sugar, mix well
cream butter in mixer
alternately add powdered sugar mixture and milk
take the time to scrape down your bowl
add vanilla
beat for a few minutes till it is light and fluffy

frost cupcakes and enjoy