Saturday, December 31, 2011

Countdown to New Year's

Here's a countdown to 10  of your favorite recipes from Our McWonderful Life over 2011.

Ya know, all you millions  handful of devoted fans. 

As 2011 comes to a close, I wanted you to know I am thankful for each and every one of you. And our common lust for food.

So, from me to you here are my New Year's wishes for you all...

10. May your 2012 be even spicier than  2011.

9. May 2012 send you somewhere South of the Border, [even if its from the comfort of your own kitchen]. 

8. May you start every morning off with a healthy, dreamy treat that will make you feel great and make your stomach smile.

7. May you enjoy every holiday to the fullest [ahem, vacation], and may you truly remember the meaning behind each and every one.

6. May your meals be repurposed, your leftovers be eaten, and your stomachs be full of warm soup this winter. 

5. May every day give you a reason to party and reflect on the blessings in your life. 

4. May your 2012 be full of chocolate. In all forms.  

3.  May you try new things in 2012. And may you not wait until your husband eats all of the ice cream in the freezer before you do it. 

2. May Pinterest inspire you in all the right directions this year. Directions that involve cream cheese stuffed inside of chicken and fried. 

Oh, and wishing you inspirational pictures of flat abs to go with it. 

1. May you exercise more and work your butt off in 2012, and enjoy decadent, cream cheesy food in moderation. Because life is much sweeter that way. 

May you have a wonderful New Year blessed by the fullness of His grace!

"From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another." John 1:16

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Apple Almond Butter Muffins

The New Year is approaching.

Every time this year, it never fails, I feel the urge to go on a diet.

It may or may not have everything to do with
a) all of the diet commercials on the radio,
b) the gym membership and weight watchers mail I just took out of my mailbox, or
c) the 4 lbs I may or may not have gained over the holidays.

Extra emphasis on the may not.

I'm relying on the power of positive thinking.

Well the good news is, these muffins have 3 healthy-for-you ingredients.

Apples. Greek Yogurt. And Almond butter.

As always with my baking, please ignore the sugar and butter in the recipe when counting your calories.


For all you almond butter haters out there, don't.freak.out.

While some Almond butters are gritty and stick to the roof of your mouth, I have found one that is delicious and wil allow you to keep your butt on the healthy boat.

Justin's Maple Almond Butter. [From Target.]

Or, you can just feel free to use peanut butter.

I won't tell a soul.

Mix up a batch of these to eat while you jog your tush to a skinny New Year.

Apple Almond Butter Muffins

5 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/3 cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
1/3 cup greek yogurt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cane sugar
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 large apple, grated on a box grater

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 12 muffin cups with liners and spray liners lightly with cooking spray.

2. With an electric mixer, mix butter, almond butter, and greek yogurt until creamy and smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. Add sugar, and mix until creamy on medium speed for 3-5 minutes.

3. While mixing, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients in mixer and mix until creamed througout.

4. Add apple (and juice from grating).

5. Bake for 23-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Enjoy these fluffy, good-for-you muffins!

"Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old." Psalm 25:6 (NIV)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Christmas Eve!

We've been busy spreading Christmas cheer around the house...

What are you up to this Christmas Eve?

Ain't it purty!

Wishing you and yours a Christmas filled with peace, joy, love, family, and LOTS of icing!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Samoa Bark

Happy almost Christmas.

You may or may not be familiar with bark.

Not of the tree variety.

The Chocolate bark variety.

Usually in the form of peppermint. Only problem is, I am one of those WEIRD people who hate mint and chocolate mixed together.

It reminds me of toothpaste.

And no. I've never had chocolate mint toothpaste.

Let me introduce you to MY version of peppermint bark.

Samoa bark.


Like the Girl Scout Cookies.

But in messy, break off your own piece, and shove it in your mouth girl scout cookie kind of way.

Hello there.

I can't take credit for these magical beauties.

Cookies and Cups can.

I can, and will, however share the recipe I used with you. Barely  slightly adapted.

Make them. And then share them with the people you love.

So you don't eat the entire plate in one sitting.

Samoa Bark
adapted from Cookies and Cups
  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate + 2 oz for drizzle
  • 35-40 shortbread cookies 
  • 11 oz caramel sauce
  • 3 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 2 Tbsp water
Melt 12 oz chocolate chips in microwave in 30 second intervals until silky. Spread out on parchment paper into a thin layer. 

Place shortbread cookies in intervals on the chocolate. (You could also break them into pieces and crumble atop the chocolate.)

Place the cookies & Chocolate in the fridge to chill and harden.

Toast coconut for 10 minutes on Low heat, stirring constantly and watching to ensure coconut doesn't burn.

Remove coconut. Add caramel sauce to pan, and cook on Medium for 1-2 minutes until hot and bubbly. Add coconut back into pan, and toss with caramel. 

Spread caramel and coconut over shortbread & chocolate. Heat and drizzle remaining chocolate over bark. Place in fridge to cool and harden ~10 minutes. Break into pieces! Eat Eat Eat!

"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,  and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told." Luke 2:16-20

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sugared Balsamic Berries

Christmas is coming!


Whether you like it or not.

I am happy to say all of the shopping in the McWonderful house is Mc-FINISHED. Phew.

And everything is wrapped.

You think I'd have some sort of peace about me, and be in chill mode. Nope.

Instead I'm fretting that I forgot something. Or someone.

Who did I forget?


Oh to relish the final days before the feasting, family, and presents begin.

Here's to hoping its all a big joke and no one has been forgotten.

In the meantime, I will eat fruit and put my Christmas stress on hold.

I discovered this treat at my nephew's Christening.

Don't be afraid.

You can't taste the balsamic. Well you CAN. But it's not what you think.

The balsamic and sugar create this amazing glaze that hugs the berries and draws out their natural flavors and sweetness.

And then you will want to jump in the bowl and swim around for a bit.

It's like taking a swim in a berry flavored pool. And not feeling guilty because its fruit. Duh.

Please ignore all of the sugar that goes along with it.


This is the perfect accoutrement to your holiday feasting. If only to cleanse your palette between meals.

Sugared Balsamic Berries
2 cups blackberries
2 cups strawberries, tops removed, and sliced in half
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Mix together balsamic and sugar mixture. Toss berries in balsamic glaze, or drizzle glaze on top of berries. Do not drench berries, this should form a thin glaze on the berries.

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, 
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” Luke 2:13-15

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Red Chile Chicken Nachos!

Has there ever been an food you love SO much that you could eat it on anything?

And you crave food that belongs with this certain thing so that you can eat them together?

For my husband, that would be Buffalo Sauce, on Chicken.

For me, Guacamole. I'd eat it on anything.

Except for maybe pancakes.

That would be weird.

Unless you made mexican pancakes.

Remember that Guacamole recipe I shared with you?

Make it.


And then make these to go under it.

The secret to Red Chile Chicken Nachos? Ask your Mexican friend Frontera to help:
Then, dive in.

Oh, don't forget to buy red and green christmas colored chips from Trader Joes.

They taste like Christmas.

Red Chile Chicken Nachos
1 8oz. packet of Frontera roasted tomato + mild red chile sauce
2 large Chicken breasts
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp butter
1 bag tortilla chips
1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups guacamole
2 cups salsa
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 jalepenos, sliced

1. Marinate chicken breasts in sauce for 45min-1 hour. (If you have time)

2. Assemble tortilla chips on the pan, cover with cheese and jalepenos. Add drained and rinsed black beans to a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high 1-2 minutes until beans are warm and tender. Add  on top of tortilla chips.

3. On Medium-High heat, sautee chicken breasts 2-3 minutes on each side, to brown. Pour in the rest of the sauce you were marinating chicken in. Add chicken stock (ensuring that the liquid level comes about halfway up the chicken breasts). Place lid on pot and simmer for 10 minutes until chicken is cooked throughout.

4. Remove pan from heat. Using 2 forks, shred chicken. Add 1 tbsp butter into pan and return to heat for 1-2 minutes until the butter has made its way through the sauce.

5. Broil nachos on HIGH for 2-3 minutes until cheese has melted.

6. Top nachos with chicken, guacamole, and salsa. Enjoy amigo!

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12

Monday, December 12, 2011

Baby It's Cold Outside: Kale & Garbanzo Bean Soup

The weather outside has become frightful.

And a fire inside would be delightful.

Make sure you don't catch the croup....

By making this Kale & Garbonzo Bean Soup!

Ok ok enough with the rhyming.

But fo real. Who turned the heat off outside?

Every year, when the weather gets cold, and I find myself avoiding trips outside at all cost, I crave soup.

Something toasty that warms you up from the inside out.

That also doubles as a hand-warmer.

Poor circulation is a real problem. Shake my hand and you will understand. Winter weather = hands of ice for me.

So to warm up your hands, and your stomach, whip up a pot of this soup.

Oh, and it qualifies as a sometimes-atarian recipe. [If you ignore the chicken stock.]

Sausage would also be delish in this soup.

Ok I'm done. Enjoy your soup.

Kale & Garbanzo Bean Soup
1 32 oz. box Chicken Stock
1 lb Kale, rinsed
5 cloves garlic
1/2 cup baby portabella mushrooms
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 large zucchini, quartered
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 TBSP evoo
1/4 cup wine
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1 tsp nutmeg

1. In a large pot, add 1 TBSP evoo and 3 cloves garlic, minced. Sautee until garlic is brown. Add 1 cup chicken stock and Kale to pot. Stir to ensure Kale is coated with garlic/broth mixture. Cook Kale on medium-high for 5 minutes covered, and 5 minutes longer, uncovered, until wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2. While Kale is cooking, in a separate pan, sauté 1 tbsp evoo, remaning garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, and onion until tender (3-5 minutes.)

3. Once Kale is cooked, add zucchini, mushroom, and onion mixture to large pot with Kale. Add remaning box of chicken stock and nutmeg. Cook on Medium for 10 minutes, until the flavors have married. Add salt and pepper if necessary and enjoy!

*                                                                *                                                                           *

"While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them." Luke 2:6-7

Sunday, December 11, 2011


noun \nō-ˈel\
  Christmas; also, a shout of joy at Christmas for the birth
      of the Savior. [Obs.]

NOEL. A word you hear over and over this time of year. 

But what does it mean? 


A shout of joy at Christmas for the birth of the Savior. 

What a sweet sound that must be to His ears. 

This season evokes a lot of joy in peoples lives. Christmas trees, decorating houses, buying and giving gifts to the  people you love. Christmas parties, Christmas carols....

But for some, it can be stressful and maybe even a bit discouraging. 

But the good news is, He promises he has great things in store for you. They're written all over His book. 

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a       hope, and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

May you find a reason to shout for joy this Christmas time. May the FIRST Noel bring you joy, peace and hope for   the new year to come, and the promises He has in store for you.

NOEL How-to: 

*N,O,E,L large monogrammed wooden letters
*Christmasy paper (found at Michaels)
*Red Velvet Ribbon
*Modge Podge
*Hot glue & gun

Modge-podge paper to letters (follow directions on Modge Podge or find a how-to video online). When completely dry, assemble ribbon in a V on back of letters. Hot glue to letter and point of V. With ribbon, assemble a bow, and hot glue to V shape. Hang from hooks around your home.

*                                                                                            *                                                                                *

"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child." Luke 2:1-5

Friday, December 9, 2011

Funfetti Mug Cake

How great is ice cream after dinner?

Or just plain dessert in general?

Well last night my husband said to me "you know what would be great right now, ice cream. Let's go get some ice cream."

After telling him we already had ice cream in the fridge, I went on to finish crafting. I'll fill you in later on that.

Several minutes later, after wiping my hands clean of modge-podge,  I went to grab some ice cream for myself.

And found the carton in the trash can.



Not cool.

Except I had never said out loud that I too wanted ice cream. I too thought it would be great right now.

After the hubby apologized, while licking the bowl clean, I moved on and decided to make mug cake.

Mug Cake (mugg ca-ke): noun, a baby cake made in 2-5 minutes in the microwave.

I remember a while back seeing this lady on TV who had hundreds of mug cake recipes. Hundreds. And I was thinking, get a life lady.

And how was she not 100 lbs overweight? If she ate that much cake.

I always thought it was silly.

I will never make mug cake. If I want cake, I'll make cake. Whoonthisearth makes mug cake.

Well, when the person you love eats the rest of your ice cream, which you had been dreaming of eating while crafting... you do. Yes, you make mug cake.

You make a mug cake out of a mole hill.

please also notice the Christmas mug.

I found fabulous and easy recipes online like this Chocolate Caramel Mug Cake at Table for 7, but since baking and I rarely get along, I decided this could totally be made with cake mix.

And it was divine.

It washed all of my ice-cream-carton-in-the-trashcan worries away.

Next time I will figure out how to make a mug cake of icing to go with it.

Funfetti Mug Cake
8 tablespoons Funfetti boxed cake mix
1 egg, scrambled
1 TBSP vegetable oil
3 TBSP water
Cooking Spray

Spray a mug liberally with cooking spray. Add egg, oil, and water to cake mix, and mix with a fork until creamy.

Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute 30 seconds. Microwave 30 seconds more if still gooey.
*                                                                  *                                                                       *
"At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea,  where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!  But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:39-45

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Grecian Potato Giggles

Growing up, my parents were awesome about having us down together as a family and having dinner.

My parents were excellent cooks and I'm about to introduce you to one of their concoctions. I think the two of you will get along merrily.

Grecian Potatoes. Greek Potatoes. Potatoes of the Greeks.

I'm not even really sure that Grecian is a word. My parents used it when they talked about these potatoes. So therefore it is. A word. Add it to your dictionary.

They made these about once every couple of weeks and we always scarfed them down.

My sisters and I would sit around the table and talk, incessantly taking turns when someone stopped for a breath. And somehow, or some way, we would always end up in fits of giggles.

Over nothing.

Like laughing so hard Greek potatoes may or may not come out your nose. Ok thatneverhappened.

But what did happen was the laughter got to such a ridiculous level that my dear father, bless his heart, would quietly take his plate of food, and walk into the living room without nary a word. And he would finish his dinner in front of the TV.

Where 3 teenage/pre-teen girls were not giggling themselves into hyperventilation.

And after he left we would say"sheesh dad, get a sense of humor." Laughing yourself into hysterics is SO not annoying.

Again, I say: bless. his. heart.

With one sister in Texas, and another with one foot out the door to move away, I miss those moments. And I can't wait for the day when we can all gather around the table for dinner again. For magical fits-of-giggles moments.

Let me introduce you to the magical ingredient.

For about $3.99 you will be thankful to add it to your spice cabinet. And it absolutely has everything to do with the *Ancient Greek Formula*.

It comes packed with flavors of garlic, salt, pepper, "parsley and five other spices" (which I'm guessing are part of the secret ancient greek formula.)

Make it. You won't regret it. And it may or may not make you break out into fits of Grecian Potato Giggles.

Grecian Potatoes
1.5 lbs baby yellow potatoes, cut in half
2 TBSP Cavenders All Purpose Greek Seasoning
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup onion, diced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut potatoes, and onion, and toss with EVOO, garlic, and seasoning.

Bake for 30 minutes, turning potatoes 2-3 times until tender and crispy.

                 *                                           *                                                   *

Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?”  The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 

And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.” 

And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:34-38

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I've been bitten by the crafty bug this Christmas.

And for just a few dollars this is uuber cute and easy to put together.

All you need are 3-4x6 frames (from the Dollar Store), some Red Velvet Ribbon, and cute christmas-y cardstock.

Just make sure you pay attention when you glue on the ribbon.

Don't have a blonde moment like I did and end up with frames that say "OH" and not "HO".

Yes, yes I did.

Step 1) Print out "H" & "O" letters to your desired style and shape from your printer. Cut out of printer paper, trace onto cardstock, and cut out. Cut out a separate cardstock to the size of the frame. Glue "H" and "O" onto background.

Step 2) Hot glue ribbon to back of frame, and hang!
                   *                       *                       *                      *                        *                

Oh-and you may or may not have noticed.

You may or may not see below some verses from the real Christmas story.

And you may or may not have heard it before.

As much as I love Santa and his HO HO HO's, I also love to take a few minutes every day to dwell on the real reason for this season.

Past the reds and greens and sparkly things that make your home beautiful. To dwell on a sweet little baby that was born in a manger, who was put on this earth to grow up and save us all.

"Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 29-33

Monday, December 5, 2011

Spiced Cider Sangria

I love Trader Joes. Don't you?

Hello 2 buck chuck. And fresh, inexpensive produce. 

And fun seasonal drink blends like Pear Cinnamon Cider. 

Remember my Summertime Sangria?

We'll we're about to deck it's halls. With cider.

It's just as delicious as it sounds.

Spicy cider with hints of clove, cinnamon and pear, all nuzzled up to a bottle of red wine and tinseled with fruit.

Yes, please.

Spiced Cider Sangria

1 bottle Cabernet Savignon
2 cups Trader Joes Pear Cinnamon Cider (or cider of choice)
1 Orange, sliced into triangles
2 apples, sliced into 1" triangles

Combine wine and cider, mix well. (Add more cider to desired sweetness.) Add half of fruit, and put in fridge to chill 2-3 hours. Serve over ice with extra fruit.

"God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Luke 1:26-28