Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 10 of 2012

Ok, it's New Year's Eve and I've had a busy day of some slow motion grocery shopping, cooking, and dishwashing (exciting, huh?!?!), though I didn't really cook a ton. Decided to throw together a shrimp and grits dish and a carrot cake to ring in the new year while the hubby's dad and his wife. Of course, maybe one of the reasons I was in slow motion was because I kept hopping on Facebook and saw lots of blogs showing of their Top 10s/12s of 2012, so I'm joining in on the fun and crank one out while the kids are settled into a movie (Journey 2 the Mysterious Island) w/ their cousins. Even though I've only been at this since Septemeber, I have absolutely loved every letter of it, so thank YOU for making this so much fun for me!


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So starting at my 10th most visited post, here they are!













And my most popular post was also my very first blog hop:
1.Talk Like A Pirate Day Blog Hop











HAPPPPPPPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Homemade Magic Shell

I just loved Magic Shell as a kid, not because it tasted great, because actually it didn't - I still remember it tasting kinda weird and chemically, but I loved it because it was the coolest thing that it hardened almost immediately when you poured it on ice cream. Too bad it didn't taste more like Dairy Queen's chocolate dip. As much as I loved that stuff, though, I had no intention of introducing it to my kids because, well, it's just really weird and chemically tasting and I had no desire to fill them up with more stuff like that than they already do.

Well you can imagine my utter excitement (and a little disbelief) when I ran across a recipe for Homemade Magic Shell on Real Food, Real Love's Facebook Page. And it was sooooo easy to make. C'mon, only two ingredients are REALLY all you need to make it?!? What-ever. Well, believe it or not, it's true! And it tastes OH SO GOOD! I'd go as far to say that it tastes just as good, if not even better than Dairy Queen's version! So be sure to check out their recipe: Real Food. Real Love.'s Homemade Magic Shell. And while I'm at it, here's the recipe to the ice cream my hubby made to go w/ the Magic Shell: Homemade Ben and Jerry's Sweet Cream Ice Cream (which can also be found in this post: Weekend of Friends Food and Soccer). Whew! That's a lot of links! :)

 Here's Sweetie's homemade ice cream in a waffle cone w/ just smidge of the magic shell. Can you say YUM?


The girls' ice cream with sprinkles of course!


Here's a quick and easy sopapilla sundae that I served at my Mexican Fiesta Volleyball Party last year. Simply made with a scoop (or two) of vanilla ice cream, a good long drizzle of Homemade Magic Shell, a dollop of whipped cream and a handful of Stacy's Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips but OH soooo goood! :) Needless to say, it was a big hit!!!


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What's also cool is that you can just stick what you don't use in an air-tight glass jar and store it at room temp. When I want to use some, I just scoop some out into a small microwaveable dish and nuke it for like 8 seconds and it's ready to use.


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Shout Outs:
Real Food, Real Love.  found both on Facebook and their own webpage. LOVE it!

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Caramel Pretzel Bars - The Perfect Gift Treat!


I found this recipe last year, a delicious combination of salty meets sweet, from one my favorite blogs: Week of Menus. Joanne (of Week of Menus) seriously comes up w/ some of the best recipes I've ever tried and this is fer sure on the top of my list. It's a perfect "Gifting Treat" and since l first happened upon it little over a year ago, I have made at least 12 batches of them. This year for the holidays, I made 3 but realized that next year, i'll have to bump it to 4, it's just THAT good! :) So sorry I just couldn't get my act together to post this in time for YOU to use too, but remember it for next year! :)
So, without further ado, here's the recipe: Caramel Pretzel Bars


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Here's a glimpse of some of the treat items that made my gift-giving list this year and the scary thing was this wasn't all of it! Every year I vow to start earlier, get more organized, do things faster, but next year, I MEAN it! Plus, I'm gonna blog it all, early too, so we can bake AND gift them together! :)


Update 12/2014: Made 6 batches of these this year and had to share some updated pix, including the very first one in this post. :)



Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some items used in this post. To see a full list of my favorite bento gear and such, just visit my "Products I Love" page! :) Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tervis Cups: An Early Christmas Gift From Santa's Elves

Ok, here's my first attempt at a mobile post since I have a nice 5+ hour ride ahead of me. Well, actually, there is only 1.5 hours left so I'd better get cranking since I'm not the fastest texter.  Let's see how this turns out and please ignore any auto-correct errors and typos, as I'm sure there will be way more than usual. :)

Yesterday, this idea for a little gift for daddy came to mind, so the three of us girls headed to Bed, Bath and Beyond to do a little last-minute Christmas shopping. We were basically looking for a to-go coffee mug for the hubby, one that would actually fit under our new espresso machine.
We quickly happened upon a giant Tervis display with a million jillion different designs and sizes to choose from. After seeing soooo many cute designs, I thought hmmm, I think we need to turn this into a family gift... ie one for each of us! So we each picked one out for ourselves and actually, the girls picked one out for me which I just love.

Ok, I know these are just cups, but I am just so excited how perfectly they fit into our lives, seriously! Here is a list of reasons I love them so much:

1. They are Made in the wonderful USA! I'm willing to spend a little extra If it means I can support, even if just a teeny tiny bit, this country I love.
2. We can express our own personalities by choosing our own design, though we chose for daddy. :) Love that the girls were there with me to pick out their own.
3. They are good for hot AND cold drinks, meaning this will not only work for coffee but it works for keeping our ice water cold on road trips!
4. They are dishwasher safe. Nothing sucks more than a sinkful of lids and cups to wash. Ok, there are lots of  worse things, but it still stinks! :)
5. Of paramount importance: they actually FIT under the spout of our espresso machine! Yahoo!
Ok, here's the kicker, which is an extension of reason #3:
Our to-go cup shelves in our cabinet are a precariously balanced mess of various coffee cups, water cups, sippy cups, straw cups which just really irritates the hubby (and me too, but more so him) many of which we use for our numerous family trips and outings. But with these 4 new cups with 4 lids, I can replace like ALL of these because they are good for hot AND cold drinks! How awesomely exciting is THAT?!? :) That alone is a gift in itself.

So this morning as we got ready to head out of town for Christmas, we let the.girls open up 1.5 gifts each: DVDs for the girls to watch during.our nearly 6 hour drive. Then Big Sis takes me aside and asks if we could get daddy to open up the.family gift from Santa's elves. What a fabulous idea I say! And it was because now we could put them to immediate use.
So here, somewhere, are two pix: one of the cups and one of them being put to immediate use. The others are out of sight under all that STUFF!

Now I just can't wait to get back home and get busy clearing out those to-go shelves! :)

And here's what my cup says:
Live Simply
Love Generously
Care Deeply
Speak Kindly

Words to live by, don't you think? :)



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Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some items used in this post. To see a full list of my favorite bento gear and such, just visit my "Products I Love" page! :) Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)



Disclosure: Affiliate links are used on this blog. :)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Double Espresso Chocolate Cupcakes

Well, last month my hubby got it in his head he wanted to buy an espresso machine and started doing all this research. Once he had narrowed it down, he even made me sit and watch some YouTube videos (lol) with him on how various ones worked. OMG they REALLY have EVERYTHING on YouTube, don't they? They all looked fine by me, but he was bound and determined to get one that I would actually use on a regular basis. You see, as much as I love to cook and bake, I am the laziest when it comes to making coffee. I LOVE and NEED coffee, but I would only ever make a pot of coffee if a friend was over while hubby was at work and would quite often call him at work to make sure I was using the right beans or grounds to water ratio. :) Bad, right? And if there was no freshly brewed coffee or even 2 day old cold coffee, I'd just make instant. :) LA-ZY!

So this is the baby he chose, from Whole Latte Love. It does it all and is as automated as it can get. It can even do one button cappuccinos and I love it AND actually use it on a daily basis. Good job, Sweetie! Thank you and congrats - you've turned me into a cappuccino and even espresso junkie yet! 
Sweetie and his new love
We got this fancy thing not too long before Thanksgiving, during which we were hosting my family. He was rather excited about it all and started planning various things to make (which is very unlike him) like homemade vanilla ice cream, homemade mint ice cream using the mint he'd grown in pots on our patio and even espresso cupcakes he found online. For the record, he is NOT a fan of coffee flavored products (ie cupcakes, desserts, ice cream, etc) but he knows my family is and was rather eager to further put that new espresso machine to work for him. One afternoon, he took it upon himself to tackle all three of these, but once making the two ice creams simultaneously took their toll on his stress levels, I stepped in to make the cupcakes. Here they are w/ all of their beautiful glory. And man, were they yummy! My family loved them, and so did Sweetie! So, here's the recipe, also from Whole Latte Love, if you'd like to try 'em yourself: Double Espresso Chocolate Cupcakes. But make sure you don't make 'em while you're making 2 different kinds of ice cream. :) For once, I followed the recipe to a T and they turned out great.

Double Espresso Chocolate Cupcakes
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And I just gotta throw this pic in here of the yummy cappuccinos that I've become addicted to. Don't know if it's the deliciousness of it or the loveliness of these snowflake mugs we got at Crate and Barrel, but I just can't seem to get enough of 'em! Not sure what I"m gonna do when it turns into spring when snowflake mugs won't seem as "cozy" but we'll cross that bridge when we get there. :)



Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

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The Chicken Chick PIN MEme    HungryLittleGirl  Adorned From Above  MondayswithCountrifiedHicks  The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Homemade Penguin Pizza Lunchables

Kids are funny. Mine are always cracking me up w/ the funny little annoying things they do. Take what happened w/ this lunch, for example. Got up this morning to make them lunch because I was just too not-in-the-mood to make them last night. Pizza lunchables were on the brain - easy to throw together, yummy enough they'll gobble it up and way healthier than the store-bought pre-packaged ones! For some reason I got up extra early - just one of those mornings, so I spent a little extra time jazzing up their lunch. Plus, I was so excited to try the Applegate pepperonis I found at Target. Despite my better judgement (I know my girls and know they wouldn't travel very well), I just couldn't leave the pepperoni penguins eyeless, beakless and belliless so I embellished away. When I was done I was like, OMG! These dudes are so cute!

When the girls came downstairs, I showed them what the penguins look like NOW since they wouldn't be looking like that later. Both had pretty much the same reaction about the penguins: "Yeah, cute, but I don't want to eat those." There was even a little whining from Little Sis that she REALLY didn't want to eat those penguins. For whatever reason, yeah, they didn't want to eat those. Punks. So, I gobbled up the eyes, beaks and bellies in one fell swoop (ewww, that sounds kinda yucky...) but not without snapping a quick pick and then the girls were left w/ plain ol' penguin pepperoni's... just the way they wanted them: eyeless, beakless, belliless. Oh well. Some days are like that. :)


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In this lunch:
  1. Arnold's 100% whole wheat flat rounds
  2. Applegate's Uncured Pepperoni (No Nitrates except those occurring naturally from celery, etc) and Applegate's American Cheese
  3. Shredded mozzerella cheese
  4. Bertolli's Organic Garlic and Olive Oil Spaghetti Sauce
  5. Trader Joe's Gummy Tummies Pengin with Soft Tummies (or something like that)
  6. Pirate's Booty
  7. Grapes and Raisins
Click here for more Pizza Lunchables ideas!

Shout-outs:
EasyLunchBoxes - love my ELB's!!



My favorite Bento supplier @ All Things For Sale. It's where I got this CuteZCute cutter and picks. Just click on the pix to view/purchase now! :)
Food Decorating Pick Puffy Pick 3D Winter Hat
  
Applegate for providing organic nitrate-free yet oh-so-convenient pre-packaged deli meats. Check out my FB post professing my love for them: FB post professing my love for Applegate :)

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

This lunch is linked up at:

This post has been shared at:
Eat's Amazing's Fun Food Friday

Following In My Shoes Bento Lunches The Chicken Chick

The winners of the popcorn giveway are...

First I gotta say, THANKS SO much to NOW Real Foods for sponsoring my first giveway! So glad my first one was for a product that I already used and loved. With that, I'm SOOOOOO excited to announce the winners of my Organic Popcorn giveway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
CONGRATULATIONS!! And thanks a bunch to EVERYONE who entered! Sorry all of you couldn't win a bag, but if you wanna try it out yourself, I ordered mine here:  iHerb.com, one of NOW Real Food's recommended distributors.They offer free domestic and international orders of $40 or more AND gave me a coupon and code to share with you:

And while I'm still on the subject of popcorn, here's kind of a prequel to my popcorn giveway post, on how I happened upon NOW Real Foods' Organic Popcorn to begin with. :)

My hubby is a popcorn junky. He eats popcorn on almost a daily basis so we had been buying microwaveable popcorn in bulk at BJ's Warehouse. But I've never been a huge fan of microwave popcorn, so every once in a while, I'd make it the old fashioned way in a pot on the stove. Never bothered to really measure anything out, but it always came out delicious, though it was hard not to burn at least some of it, mostly out of sheer impatience. Well, this one particular night, I had made a tasty batch but ended up burning about a quarter of it - for the 2nd time... in a week. Woopsie! That night, hubby started looking around Amazon for a popcorn popper. I'm all up for new gadgets, but my kitchen cabinets are already at-capacity and the thought of trying to cram yet another appliance in somewhere just did not appeal to me. I begged for one more chance to perfect my technique, but I was told, "Too late! Button's been pressed." Well, sheesh! So much for 3rd chances!

With this fancy new popper on the way, I took it upon myself to go online to find and order some organic popcorn because for some reason, something about Orville Redenbacher just never sat right w/ me, call me crazy. "So there!" I said to him! :)

So here's the 1970's UFO lookin', popcorn poppin' monstrosity and the tasty organic popcorn we got:


The popper itself, West Bend 82306X Stir Crazy 6-Quart Popcorn Popper, is way cool. It has a fun-to-watch (but not for THAT long) sweeping arm that constantly rotates so kernels don't burn (what a novel idea!!) and unlike the air poppers we used to own, the top is optionally vented so the popcorn won't get all soggy. The vents are optional because after you're done popping, you put the black lid back on it to flip and use as a bowl. WOW, someone was thinkin'! :)

And the popcorn, well, you already know enough about   NOW Real Food's Certified Organic Popcorn. Feel free to check this post out if you don't: Organic Popcorn Giveaway Post.

And here's a Quick Popcorn Recipe:
1-2 Tbsp oil (we've used either coconut oil or canola oil)
1 cup of popcorn
1-2 Tbsp butter (optional)

Basically just throw in the above 3 ingredients in the popper (I usually throw in pat of butter w/ the oil so the kernels get a nice coating of butter on them for the flavor but without that greasy yucky feel you get when you add the butter after) and then run it 'til they're popped. Cap the vent, flip and then salt to taste after popped.

Makes 6 quarts of popped popcorn.

Even my hubby, as much as he loves popcorn, couldn't possibly eat all this popper can make in one sitting, so I stuck the leftovers in a (clean) giant glass kimchee jar, sealed it tight and *poof* it's the perfect quick and healthy snack! BTW, (clean) giant glass kimchee jars are just awesome, don't you think? :)



Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used on this blog. :)