December 28, 2012

Christmas Treats 2012

This year, my energy was just NOT to be found. Luckily, thanks to Pinterest, I found some awesome recipes for the annual neighbor gifts!


Jello Coconut Candy Balls
These are EXTREMELY rich, so be sure to roll the balls quite small.

1 lg pkg Flaked Coconut
1 lg box Jello (any flavor, but Raspberry was pretty yummy - tastes like a Zinger)
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/4 tsp Almond or Raspberry extract (or flavor to match your jello)
1 sm box Jello - to roll the balls in

Mix together the first 4 ingredients until all moistened and combined well. WET YOUR HANDS, then with a melon baller, scoop out and roll your individual balls. Roll to coat in the small package of Jello. Put these directly into an airtight container and store as long as needed.
*Makes roughly 25-30 balls; depending on size.


Crisp Jello Meringue Cookies

3 Egg Whites
1/8 tsp Salt
3 1/2 T (1 sm pkg) Jello (I used Raspberry)
3/4 c Sugar
1 T Vinegar
1/2 c Mini Chocolate Chips (opt)

Preheat the oven to 250. Beat the egg whites with the salt until foaming. Add Jello and sugar as you beat the mix until it stands in stiff peaks. Add the vinegar and gently mix. You can add in the chocolate chips here if you like (orange is FABULOUS with the chocolate chips). Put the egg-mixture into a ziploc bag, snip off a corner, and pipe the mixture onto a prepared baking sheet. I used my Silpat and some with a parchment paper lining. Sprinkle as desired. Bake at 250 for 25 mins, turn the oven off and allow to sit in the oven for an additional 20 mins. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool completely; I let mine sit overnight.
*Makes 2 cookie sheets-worth; depending on size


Quick and Easy Shortbread Bites

1 1/4 c Flour
3 T Sugar
1 stick Butter; cold/cut in pieces
1 T Colored Sprinkles
1/2 - 1 tsp Flavoring (rum, almond, orange, etc)
1/8 tsp Butter Flavoring (opt)
Dash of salt

Preheat the oven to 325. In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add in the pieces of butter, and the flavorings until dough comes together a bit (will be way crumbly). Place the dough in a medium bowl and with your hands, gently knead in the sprinkles until evenly blended and the dough is forming a ball.
On a lightly floured waxed paper, pat the dough into an 8" x 5" rectangle. Freeze 15 mins. With a butter knife or spatula, make an indentation as to where you'll cut your the shortbread into 1/2" cubes. Bake 18-20 mins until lightly golden on the bottom. Cut the cubes IMMEDIATELY after removing, and let cool.


Caramel Marshmallow Popcorn

1 pkg Microwave Popcorn
1/2 c Butter
1 c Light Brown Sugar
2 T Light Corn Syrup (Karo Syrup)
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
12 lg Marshmallows
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Salt

Pop the popcorn, remove any unpopped kernels (pour the corn into a bowl, and shake at an angle. Push the corn up and the "grannies" should be there).
Melt the butter on the stove over Med/Low. Add in the brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and marshmallows all at once. Turn the heat up to medium and stir until all of the marshmallows are melted and the mixture is smooth. DON'T OVER COOK; it ruins the chewiness of the corn. Pour this mixture over the popped corn and stir to coat evenly. Pour onto a piece of waxed paper to cool. Store in an airtight container or ziploc baggie.


Apple Fritter Bread

3 c Flour
1 pkg Yeast (2 T)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 c Light Brown Sugar
1/4 c Water (may need a little bit more)
1 Egg; beaten
3/4 c Milk
1/4 c Butter; softened
1/8 tsp Butter Flavoring (opt)

6 small Apples; peeled/diced finely
1 T Lemon Juice
1 c Light Brown Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 T Butter
1 tsp Cinnamon
2 T Cornstarch
1/8 tsp Butter Flavoring (opt)
1/2 c Pecans/Walnuts; chopped (opt)

1 T Butter; softened
1 tsp Vanilla
3/4 c Powdered Sugar
3 tsp Milk or half-and-half

Preheat the oven to 350. Place parchment paper in a 9x5" loaf pan; grease the end pieces if the paper doesn't quite cover. In a skillet, cook the apples, lemon juice, brown sugar, vanilla, butter, cinnamon, flavoring, and cornstarch until the mixture is thickened and apples are semi-soft. Set aside to cool.
Heat the milk in a small pan until it just bubbles. Remove it from the heat and add in the butter; stir until melted and let cool. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, yeast, brown sugar, and salt. Mix well. Add the water, egg, flavoring, and the milk/butter mixture. Mix together until the dough forms a semi-sticky ball. Transfer this dough to a well-floured surface and knead 3-5 more times until dough is pliable and smooth. Roll out into a large rectangle (think 5 columns, 4 rows of cut-out squares the width of your loaf pan). Evenly spread the rectangle with the cooled apples mixture. Cut the dough as stated above; 5 columns, 4 rows = 20 pieces. Stack these into 4 piles using a metal spatula (apples tend to make the dough sticky underneath). Place your piles vertically into your loaf pan (See picture above). Bake 45-50 mins until golden brown. IMMEDIATELY remove from the pan and let cool. Keep wrapped in the parchment to ensure the end pieces don't fall out.
Make the Glaze:
Mix the butter, vanilla, and sugar in a bowl. Add the milk and stir until you get a creamy consistency. Pour this over your cooled bread and allow to set up slightly. Pull of a piece and enjoy!


Swirl Cream Cheese Candies

1 3oz pkg Cream Cheese; softened
4-6 drops Flavoring of choice (cinnamon, orange, lemon, raspberry, mint.....)
Granulated Sugar
3c + more for rolling Powdered Sugar
4-6 drops Food Coloring (gel works great too)

Mix together the cream cheese and 3 c powdered sugar until smooth and pie dough consistency. Add in the flavoring of choice and mix well. Divide the dough in 1/2 - add food coloring to 1/2. Divide each color (white and colored) into 1/3's so it's easier to twist into ropes.
On a powdered sugar-coated work surface (again, I used my silpat), take 1/3 of each color and roll into equal length ropes; twist together. Using a melon baller, portion into balls and roll as such. Roll each ball into granulated sugar and place on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper or parchment paper. Flatten with a fork into little patties. Let stand for 1-3 hours until slightly hardened. Store in an airtight container or in the fridge.


Cookie Dough Truffles

1 c Salted Butter; softened
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
6oz Mini Chocolate Chips
1/4 tsp Cinnamon (opt)
1 1/2 c Light Brown Sugar
2 c Flour
1/4 tsp Salt

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Use a melon baller and using your hands, roll into SMALL balls; place on parchment lined baking sheet and chill 30 mins until firm. At this point, you can drizzle or dip these into chocolate or candy coating... or even just eat as is!


I would have to say that the cream cheese mints, caramel corn, and the cookie dough truffles were my fave. My hubby on the other hand will tell you that there's NO question about the Apple Fritter Bread being the best.... I may have to agree with him. haha!! I hope you enjoy these!

Progress on the Babe and a Photo Shoot

Soooo, it's been a while. haha! Things have definitely been moving along over here though. Jonny got home the 2nd week of November and life has just barely started to settle down.

Baby-wise, we're officially at 36 weeks! Baby boy is moving and grooving daily and growing a tad LARGE if I do say so myself. haha! It's fun to see his little head or bum travel across my belly throughout the day.... Not so fun to have that in the middle of the night though. Just being honest. I'm just wondering how much bigger this little bud is going to grow.... hmmm.

Yesterday Jonny and I went to a local park and had so much fun (froze our booties off!) watching the squirrels romp through the tree-tops gathering food and leaves for their nests. The photographer in J certainly  came out to play! He was chasing after the squirrels as they flew around above us in the trees and scampered across the snow. Jon's so cute when he gets into the "Photographer" mode of himself.

In addition to the squirrels, we had some fun taking "preggo pics" - even though my belly isn't really very visible (tall girl problems). I just love the red contrast against the snow! The plaid is my 2nd fave.... Love. It!
Looking up at the crazy squirrels

Christmas Photo Shot - Couldn't be helped!

36 weeks = 9 months pregnant

If you like the look of Jon's work, you should check out his other stuff! Seriously, he's got awesome talent and more than 17 years experience under his belt! Here's the LINK to his website.

Happy Holidays

September 27, 2012

A little bun in the.....Yup!

This was supposed to have been a "look what I've accomplished" post, regarding my workouts and new lifestyle change.... however, there was a little "snag" so to speak in my agenda. We're pregnant!!! After 6 long years of trial, error, and heartache, we finally are happy to announce that we'll be welcoming a baby BOY on January 25th of 2013!

 Just in case there was any doubt  :)

Oh my word, what an experience it's been, let me tell you!! As I've mentioned before, we moved to Nebraska last fall (2011) and My Mister started his new official AF job! Woohoo! Well, along with his new officiality, he got the joy of being able to "go overseas".... deployment..... (dun, dun, dunnnnnnn). He had 13 days to get ready, instead of the usual month or so given! We were hustling as well as hosting his parents who were incredibly helpful for us both. It was crazzziness at our house. Well, he left the day after his parents left, on May 1st and is gone until November 8th (hopefully no more extensions!).... now the fun part. :)
After he left, I had scheduled to go to Utah to stay with the family for a few weeks and left the Saturday after Mister left. We had so much fun hanging out and being together in Utah... but after a few weeks, I became aware of "something" if you know what I mean. I hadn't seen my favorite Auntie yet for the month. "Whatever", I thought to myself. It's happened before. Well, my family talked me into staying an additional 2 weeks; making my stay the entire month of May. After 2 more weeks I still hadn't seen "her". Soooooo, the test..... and it was POSITIVE!!! Do you believe in miracles? Because I definitely do now. TMI - we only had 1 chance and it worked! After 6 freakin' years, it finally worked.... when Jon was going to be gone. haha! Oh well, I'm not complaining! Great "going away" present if you ask me! haha!

So, here I am in September.... past the joys of the 1st trimester (let's just say we won't speak of eggs, root beer, popcorn, or broccoli for a while), and halfway done with the 2nd. My mom and I have had a couple of trips back and forth to Nebraska (I've been in UT for the Summer) getting the room ready for baby furniture when my guy comes home! I can't even describe the happiness I'm feeling right now. Feeling my little guy alive and growing is just indescribable, and my own personal miracle. I love him more and more each second of each day. Hopefully, this last month will fly by and Hubs will be able to have a taste of my pregger-ness (he's gotten lucky if you ask me!).

January 19, 2012

Here's the skinny on being healthy

Hey folks,

So a lot has happened since the start of the New Year. One of the most important, and the one I'm most excited about, is this: I'm kickin' my boo-tay into shape! Big Time!! My hubby and I made a goal around the Fall of last year, to be in the best shape of our lives by the same time in 2012. Well, we're sticking to that goal.

We've totally restructured our daily habits and have accepted the "clean lifestyle" required to reach our goal. Honestly, it's dang hard, and I hate all the eggs to be eaten with a passion no one can measure - but - I can see results already and I KNOW my hard work is payin' off!!! wooohoo!

I have a few credo's that have helped me along the way.... Some are cute and sassy, others are down right to the point. I hope this inspires someone the way it did me.

Any girl who's practiced this one, knows it's true. 

This is one that I remember ALWAYS. It's hard sometimes to keep going when you feel that you're not making any progress. The good news? Proof is in the pudding, as they say. It's been 3 weeks and I'm seeing results I never thought would happen this fast!!! Hollah!!!  

Ok my Biggest Loser fans.... We all know Jillian is the Empress of the World of fitness and this is one I think of when I'm making those ugly, strained faces at myself in the gym mirrors. YOU CAN DO IT! JUST ONE MORE!!!

To help me keep my happy-creative-foodie side content during this phase of things, I've had to search my Foodie Files to find some yummy, yet crazy-healthy meal ideas. Luckily, I'm not alone in my quest of scrumptious good-for-you meals!

This Kale Soup I found in a magazine a recently picked up, was tried out over at The Pantry Diaries, and it still sounds awesome to me. 
It has lots of protein, and obviously, covers your greens intake perfectly!

These Roasted Zucchini and Tomatoes look PHENOMENAL and are perfect for my low-fat, low-carb lifestyle. No flavor sacrificed! That's what I'm talkin' bout! Kalyns Kitchen tried it out - get the recipe there.

This next one is my absolute fave. I have 1/2 of this each morning, with a few slices of extra-lean turkey bacon and my Lean Green smoothie. Delish!
Get the recipe for this version from Do Better.

My recipe for Egg White, Oatmeal Pancakes is this:

1-2 pkts low sugar or weight control instant oatmeal
1 c Egg White (egg beater carton)
1 tsp Truvia
1 scoop Flax seed
1 scoop Protien powder
dash cinnamon
dash salt
dash vanilla
Craisins (opt)
Non-Stick spray

Mix it all together and pour into a frying pan you've sprayed liberally with Non-Stick spray. Be sure to spread the oats around so that they're evenly distributed. Cover and cook on med-low until the center is springy to the touch and edges are lightly browned. This is absolutely incredible with non-sweetened applesauce on top. MMMMMmm! Enjoy!

I guess with all of this motivational talk, I should mention what motivated me to begin with. First of all, I have two AMAZING sister-in-laws who are the epitome of good health and care for one's self. I can never catch up to them, but I can do my best to do my own thing! Right? Well, after telling this to my sweetie, he went online and found me the best website in the entire universe: Body He went on there and found a person's profile who best matched mine and my goals, and set up a fabulous routine for me! It's awesome, seriously. Here's the Bikini Comp photo of her(I promise she doesn't look this nasty all the time - see following pic):
She's 5' 8", started at 142lbs, and here she's 122! That's my dream weight (and what I weighed when we were first married). Following her pre-competition routine has been way easier than I thought it would and I just keep this picture in my mind when I'm struggling through a hard workout. I'm not planning on competing anytime soon, but I just want to be a lean, mean, healthy-machine!

Here's a pic of her before and current:


See? Healthy and perfectly lean. 

Well, that's it for now. I'll keep ya'll updated as things progress!

XOXO - Linz

December 12, 2011

Lemon Buddies

In my family, there are certain people who have veeeeeery particular tastes. My mom happens to be one of these people. If you even start saying the word "lemon", her ears instantly perk up and her mouth faucets turn on.... So, in honor of my cute mama I'm making these Lemon Buddies for her stay with us over Christmas!! I am so excited to give her one of my cute little bottles of love all for her very-own-self. Hooray for the wide world of Chex Mixes! haha!

9 cups Rice Chex® cereal
1 1/4 cups white vanilla baking chips
1/4 cup butter or margarine
4 tsp grated lemon peel
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 cups powdered sugar

Vary this mix by stirring in chopped dried tropical fruits, coconut or macadamia nuts after coating the cereal mixture with powdered sugar.

Preparation Directions
Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside. In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chips, butter, lemon peel and juice uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; gently shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper or foil to cool. Store in airtight container.

I was thinking of putting something cute together like the little "Reindeer Chow" bottle below to hold these Lemon Buddies in. Cute, right?

Talk to you soon!


November 25, 2011

Our First Nebraska Guests!

Yaaaay! It's the start of the Christmas Season and I couldn't be more excited for it to be here! I'm loving (LOOOOOVING) our new house here in Nebraska and can't wait to show you how cute and cozy it's going to look after we get the Christmas decor up. EEEEE!!! So excited!!

In addition to being able to pull out my "treasures" of the season, we also get a fun surprise for the actual holiday too.... MY FAMILY IS COMING FOR CHRISTMAS! Holy cow, we were so sad that we weren't able to go home this year since we just barely got here and my family decided they'd come out here instead! I just hope that the weather holds up long enough for them to get here.

So, since we get our first guests, my "stash-room" now needs to hurry up and become the Guest Room it's destined to be! haha! We've got a bed coming (no more air mattress, people!!) and I'm trying to decide exactly which bedding will look best with my beige walls and hardwood floors. I'm thinking reds or browns.... hmmm. Besides the bedding though, I'm so ready for them to get here. I've decided to go all out and make it kind of like a little B&B for them - complimentary gifts, mints, and everything!!

For the bedding, I'm trying to decide between all of these 3 - of course the stripey one will only be seasonal, but it sure looks cute! 

I love this whoooole ensemble. The color of the little table is the color of my hardwood floors too.

This one just makes me want to jump right in and snuggle in with a good cookbook. : ) It also totally screams the style of Susan Branch! (see below for her idea on how to make the room even cozier!)

This one here is the one that is the easiest to choose - I've already found where to buy it.... just not totally sold on it yet.

For my guest's enjoyment during their stay with us, I've also put together some fun "complimentary" items as well. 

Perfectly portioned "toiletries" for their convenience and for what they might have forgotten. (forget about that gold butterfly though - eesh!)
I just love the ideas inside of these baskets. Plus, who doesn't love unwrapping something ESPECIALLY for them!!?!
These toiletries are PERFECT! Mouthwash and all.

A "Fun" basket for their room - Including: a list of fun places for them to see while here. A few homemade snacks. A few good magazines or books/games. A cozy, snuggly blanket for those wintery days out here, and all wrapped up in a cute, festive bucket or something!
A fun little snack selection is ALWAYS  good thing. Of course, in my house, it would probably be cookies and fresh bread...mmmmm.

.... And of course we've GOT to have the mints for their pillows. Now I don't know about you all, but that 1 little Andes mint or whatever they typically give you is never enough... so I'm thinking this portion is MUUUUCH better!  : )
Of course you've got to have it all smelling scrumptious and welcoming for your guests when they arrive, so some delicious, pungent, spicy-smelling oranges are JUST the thing!

To sum this all up, here are some little idea lists if you're planning on doing something like this down the road for your guests. I found some of the things on there to be fabulous ideas!!!

Susan Branch does things the best - if you're one of us down-home-comfort kind of people <3


November 08, 2011

We made it... Just in time for the Holly-days!

Hey ya'll! It's definitely been a while, but my word we've been busy!!!! We made it here to Nebraska just in time for winter to settle in. We got to spend a good time with our families as well which was sooo needed, I can't even say.

Like I said though, we made it here just in time for Halloween and you KNOW this girl decorated - even amid our piles of boxes. I loved having all the huge spooky trees blowing leaves down our street. It's funny to watch the 2 squirrels romp around the yard and up and down the trees. Fabulous-Fall. <3

In honor of the upcoming Holidays, I've put together my list of Winter/Holiday ideas. These are things I'd like to do or just love the idea of... Let me know if you have any you think I might like to!! I'm so ready to get my craftiness on!

Snuggly Sweater, Rockin' Boots, and a cute Headband are a MUST!

Nothing says the Holidays to me as much as a red plaid, flannel shirt does. Love the asymmetrical buttons too.

You know you're going to need a warm, fuzzy robe for Christmas morning! I love the idea of a floor-length one - just like Grandmother used to wear.
I'm loving the length and uniqueness of this door decor.

With a couple of these on either side of the door, who wouldn't feel welcome stopping by to say "hi!"
How easy would this be to put together! Love the bell as the "O"

Cute and YUMMY little pedestal gift decorations. These colors are FABULOUS too!

Okay, what a great idea. I love the idea of lights within the glass lanterns, but have always had a tough time with seeing all that ugly green cord! Problem solved = fill that puppy up with festive ornaments! It would probably work great for Halloween too; filled with pumpkins and spider web.

Can we say WOW! I mean, this is the most gorgeous little "Hansel and Grettle-esque" gingerbread house I've ever seen!

This could go either way - as a decoration for yourself or even as a neighbor/friend gift! Cute with scrapbook paper and matching ribbon.

Love, love, love this idea! I've even seen this mounted in a cute picture frame with cream background behind it. Darling!
I loved this cute idea to "dress up" the ol'paper plate for my neighbor treats this year. (The red one's my fave!)

Cute little felt mittens and a nice cardboard hat box make this so festive and that much more memorable for the receiver. Plus, how fun to make the mittens!!! :)

More to come I'm sure.... These Holidays are my favorite!