Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Amazzzzzing Chocolate Cake

Sometimes, there's nothing better than a BIG piece of chocolate cake.

This recipe is easy to make - and takes the "traditional chocolate cake" to another level.

You'll need:
- Your favorite box of chocolate cake mix (doesn't matter what brand!)
- 1 small box of chocolate pudding (3.5 ounces)
- 3 ounces of baking chocolate squares (I used Baker's brand)
- 1 bar of chocolate (you'll break this apart and use for garnish)
- 1 cup of mini chocolate chips
- 1 cup of sour cream
(More than likely, you'll also need eggs and Canola oil for the box of cake mix.)

- 1 cup of butter (room temperature)
- 5 cups of powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 3 ounces of baking chocolate (melted)

First up... THE BATTER!!!
1.) Follow the directions on the cake box.
To that add: 1 cup of sour cream, 1 cup of mini chocolate chips and 3.5 ounces of chocolate pudding.

2.) Pour into round cake tins.
Bake according to instructions on the box.

Due to the pudding and sour cream - you'll have to add a few extra minutes to your bake time.

While your cake bakes, make the frosting!

3.) First... melt 3 ounces of baking chocolate (I used a double broiler to melt it.)

In a mixer add:
- Melted chocolate
- 1 stick of butter
- 5 cups of powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup milk

Mix until it's a very light, creamy texture.

(If you're short on time - you can always BUY the frosting from a store. You'll need 2 tubs.)

4.) Now... let's talk about PRESENTATION!
First - chop up a regular chocolate bar for the topping.
I used Ghirardelli. 

5.) Once the cake is done baking, LET IT COOL for at least 30 minutes!!!

Then, layer the 2 cakes with a good amount of frosting in-between.

6.) Cover the entire cake with the frosting.
Add the chopped up chocolate on top.

This cake is SO moist, and BURSTS with chocolate!!!

It's one of those cakes that literally MELTS in your mouth.

Perfect on its own... 
But also tastes wonderful with vanilla or coffee flavored ice cream.

(As for the leftovers) - feel free to put the cake in the fridge - or leave it in a sealed container.
Either one works great!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Homemade Snow Globes

My mom has a LARGE BOX of Ball jars (leftover from my sister's wedding) sitting in the closet.
So, I decided to turn them into INEXPENSIVE Christmas presents:
Homemade Snow Globes

1.) Start with various sizes of Ball jars.
Big, medium, small.
They cost between $2.50-1.50 (each) at Hobby Lobby.

2.) Buy a bag of FAKE snowflakes - pine cones - and some miniature trees.
I found the snow at Target.
Trees and pine cones at Hobby Lobby.

3.) Glue the object (using a hot glue gun) to the base of the jar lid.

4.) Put a spoonful of snow inside the jar - and screw on the lid!

5.) I tied some ribbon around the lid... and glued a red berry in the middle.
(You can find BAGS of these red berries at Hobby Lobby.)

6.) You can also put your favorite Christmas tree ornament inside the jar!
I found this pretty blue heart.
(Glued an acorn to the top of the jar.)

"Together or apart - always in my heart!"

7.) I glued these BLUE, sparkly snowflakes to the tops of a few jars.
(Once again, using the hot glue gun.)

Look how cute they are!!!
Super inexpensive too!
Each one only cost me about $2.50 (TOTAL!)

These would be perfect presents to give to your cousins, aunts/uncles, friends or co-workers.

Merry Crafting!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Greek Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I am a sucker for Greek food.
Love it.
Luckily, my mom had some chicken breasts in the fridge - so I decided to make:
"Artichoke & Sun Dried Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breasts." 

It's pretty quick to make - and DELICIOUS.

4 chicken breasts
1 red onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 can of artichoke hearts
Sun dried tomatoes
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 stick of butter
White wine
1 box couscous
1 cup of chicken stock
Olive oil
Feta cheese

1.) Add some olive oil to a sauté pan. Once it's hot, add 1/2 cup of chopped, red onion.
Cook for about 3 minutes.

2.) Add 3 chopped garlic cloves, 1/2 cup of chopped sun dried tomatoes and 1 can of chopped artichoke hearts.
Cook for another 3 minutes.

3.) Add 1/4 cup of white wine to the mixture.
Pick whatever you like to drink!
(I used Riesling.)
Also - add 2 Tablespoons of BUTTER.

Cook for another 3 minutes.

4.) While the mixture cooks, pound your chicken breasts flat!
Sprinkle salt/pepper on both sides.

5.) Add 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese to the mixture.
Take OFF the heat.
Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes.

6.) Once the mixture has cooled, place a spoonful at one end of the chicken breast.
Secure with toothpicks.

* Place the chicken breasts in a heated pan with more olive oil.
Brown on all sides. 

* Add another 1/4 cup of white wine to the pan - and 1 Tablespoon of butter.

* Put the lid on the pan - and let the chicken breasts cook for 10 minutes. 

7.) While the chicken cooks, get your couscous ready!

In a pot, heat up:
1 cup of chicken stock
1 Tablespoon of butter
1/2 cup chopped Kalamata olives
1/4 cup of chopped sun dried tomatoes

* Let the mixture come to a slight boil.

* Add your box of couscous, stir. 
* Take pot OFF the heat!!! 
Place the lid on the pot, and let the couscous sit for 5 minutes.

8.) Fluff your couscous with a fork.

9.) Take your chicken off the heat.

10.) Let the chicken breasts rest for about 5 minutes.

11.) While the chicken breasts rest, add another 1/4 cup of white wine to the pan.
Scrape all the GOOD BITS off the bottom of the pan!!!
This will be your "sauce" for the dish.

12.) Add a handful of Feta cheese to your couscous.
Ready to serve!

Cut up the chicken breasts, and place on top of a bed of couscous.
Make sure to add some sauce on top of the chicken!

Sooooo yummy.
Easy to make!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Unemployed Anchor Woman

On the road again.

I haven't posted in MONTHS - I apologize.
But, after working the "Third Shift" for the past 2-years... 
I am BACK among the living!!!
Let's rewind for a bit... and go back to the Fall of 2010.

LOTS of changes were happening at my old TV station in Omaha.
LOTS of people lost their jobs... or had to take different positions within the newsroom.

So... I decided to take a "leap of faith" - and head to the Frozen Tundra.
Green Bay, Wisconsin.

My amazing friends and family said "farewell"... and sent me on my way to Titletown for a job as a Morning Anchor at a local TV station. #GoPackGo

Unlike most morning shows, I had to solo produce and anchor the 2-hour show.
Which meant... I had to work "vampire-like" hours.
12:30 AM - 9:30 AM.
Just imagine the toll it can take on you mentally and physically... and on your social life!

But - I learned A LOT!!!
I had the chance to work with some of the most creative, hilarious people on the planet!!!

Need proof of their creativity?
Well... here are two examples:

Like all jobs in TV... they must come to an end... at some point.
This past fall, I decided NOT to re-sign my contract. 
(A number of factors went into the decision.)
In the end... it was just a "gut feeling."
I knew it was time to move on.

My last day on the anchor desk in Green Bay was December 5th.

#Replacementweatherguy (who was also my floor director) made sure it was a GREAT day.
Every Friday morning, I'd let him have a "bump shot sign" in the show.
He decided to break out allllll his favorite signs on December 5th.

And, his "Quote of the Day" was pretty fitting too.
Go Jays!

I may have left behind some great co-workers... but I also left behind AMAZZZZZZING friends!
(Ladies, break out the tissues.)

Andrea and Dana were the FIRST friends I made... and they were JUST what I needed.
No family.  No friends.
Just me... and my winter parka.
I knew I'd have to look for friends --- at work. 

Luckily, I met Andrea and Dana during my "Military Mom Makeover" segment for the show.

After interviewing both of them... I knew we HAD to be friends :)

They are two of the STRONGEST... funniest... most HONEST... beautiful women I have ever met. 
They were my lifelines in Green Bay.
Kept me afloat.
I owe them more than they'll ever know!!!!

Heather was a fellow reporter who worked with me at the station.
Two words to describe Heather: BRUTALLY HONEST.
And that is what I love about her!
She doesn't sugar coat anything... tells you exactly what she's thinking.

Samantha was a co-worker of mine at my part-time job.
WAAAAITTTT a minute!
Part-time job?
Yup. You read that right.
Aside from working the "Third Shift" at the TV station, I decided to get a part-time job in Green Bay to make some extra cash and MEET PEOPLE!!!

It was a great decision (even if it meant VERY LITTLE sleep.)
Samantha and the other ladies are HILARIOUS... and became my family.
Mothers, sisters, friends.
I will never forget them.

Then... Courtney came along... and was a breath of FRESH AIR!
Her husband plays for the Packers, and I asked her to do a weekly segment for our morning show.
She was game to do WHATEVER crazy shenanigans I requested... all for the sake of TV.

Courtney is one of the most caring, down-to-earth, loving people I have ever met.
We've shared a lot of laughs, tears... cupcakes... and bottles of wine :)

I was also there when she gave birth to her beautiful baby boy!
A special moment I will never, ever, ever, ever forget.
I know we'll be friends for life.

Luckily - Courtney also introduced me to her friend Kristyn.
Kristyn has a genuine, very nurturing soul... and would do ANYTHING for her friends and family.
She's extremely positive - in good times and in bad!
A perfect friend to have.

So, even though I've left a snowy, cold Lambeau Field in my rear-view mirror... 
I'm taking the good memories with me.

Memories filled with the AMAZING friends I made in Green Bay.
Friends who became my "Survival Kit" - whether they realized it or not.

So... that's the short version of the "Unemployed Anchor Woman."
I'm currently looking for a new on-air job... but it has to be the right fit.
In the words of my mom, "Let go... and let God."

For the time being - I am back home - living with my parents through the holidays.
Then, I may venture to Chicago and spend time with my sister and friends.

I know bigger and better things are right around the corner.

But, on the other hand... this means... I have NO EXCUSES for NOT blogging!
Come along for a new journey.

And... if you need a nanny... or a babysitter... let me know :)
I have a LOT of free time --- and need to make some cash for Christmas.
Kids love me!